Re: Heresy? Re: DSSSL WWW Enhancements

Subject: Re: Heresy? Re: DSSSL WWW Enhancements
From: lex@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Alex Milowski)
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 17:06:44 -0500 (CDT)
> > Let's moot a couple of heretic ideas.
> > 
> > Syntax less like Lisp?
> I agree with the points you make here.
> We've tried to sell a LISP-based customisation language (Sculptor)
> for our SGML editor (Author/Editor) for several years, and although
> we _have_ made quite a few sales, it's never easy.
> Years ago I used some functional languages that had syntaxes much
> more like ALGOL or C, and preferred them greatly.
> To some extent I'd favour a C or Java or Perl-like syntax!
> (if c s1 s2)		if (c) {
> 			    s1;
> 			} else {
> 			    s2;
> 			}
> (f a1 a2 .... an)	f(a1, a2, ... an)
> (list a b c)		("a", "b", "c") # this is the Perl syntax
> and so on.
> This can (at least in theory) be done with a separate parser
> producing the same internal representations as today.  I haven't
> looked inside Jade to know if it'd work like that there.
> Scheme is technically a good choice for working with SGML,
> but people don't choose software on technical merit alone.
> If DSSSL style sheets were hidden behind dialogue boxes, it
> wouldn't matter what they looked like, bu the fact is that they
> aren't and aren't likely to be for some time -- it's too hard in
> general.

(Note: Lee, I'm not hacking on you or anyone else who feels this way.)

I don't see how you will be able to fit all of the Scheme functional style
into "some other syntax".  It would seem to me that the goal for any
DSSSL-oriented developer for the mass market should be a good front-end.

Technically, I don't see what we gain by changing the syntax.  A complex
style-sheet or transformation will not cease to be complex.  Hence, what is
the point?

The argument against a lisp-like style is rather weak in my book.  I use
perl all the time and *live* with the hacker`s syntax (excuse me, all you
perl zealots).  DSSSL can be quite elegant and clear.

Now, I could see different "front-ends" to a DSSSL back-end.  Again, this
begs the question: Why?  What are we gaining?

Hence, I'll pose the question:  What do we gain by changing the syntax?

I don't even think we want to go down this road at all.

I live in a multi-language environment of Scheme, Java, perl, C++, etc.  and It
works just fine and I can use the language *technically* appropriate to the
job at hand.

The fact that perl succeed with a rather cryptic language syntax suggests that
it is not the syntax but what the language can do that makes something
succeed.  If I can transform my documents with a few lines of DSSSL code
with parenthesis galour, I win over some other language in which it takes
me many more! (not intended to rhyme)  This should be our goal for extending 
DSSSL--simple clear descriptions of what should be done--not a change of syntax.

(Whew!! Done venting.)

R. Alexander Milowski   alex@xxxxxxxxxx
Copernican Solutions Incorporated                  (612) 379 - 3608

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