On 2019-11-07 20:30, Paul Moore wrote:
On Thu, 7 Nov 2019 at 18:59, Chris Angelico email@example.com wrote:
On Fri, Nov 8, 2019 at 5:40 AM Martin Euredjian via Python-ideas firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Was your use of APL on a machine with a dedicated APL keyboard?
I've done both. In the early '80's it was not uncommon to find terminals with APL keyboards. IBM, DEC, Tektronix and other made them. Once the IBM PC era took hold most of APL was done with either a card you'd place in front of your keyboard or stickers you'd add to the front of the then thick keycaps.
Here's reality: It isn't that difficult at all to mentally map a bunch of symbols to a standard keyboard. It's a bit clunky at first but you learn very, very quickly, I would venture to guess that one could reach for the most common APL symbols with ease within a day.
Here's another very VERY important reality: once you've done something for multiple years, you are usually *terrible* at estimating how difficult it truly is. Your brain understands what you're doing and has no difficulty with it, so you think that it's an easy thing to do. Is it? Maybe; maybe not. But unless you have watched a brand new APL programmer, you can't see how hard it actually is. Or in this case, perhaps not a brand-new APL programmer, but someone who has (say) six months of experience.
And another very important reality here is that Python is used by a lot of people who would not class themselves as professional programmers. It's used by schoolchildren to learn about computers. It's used by graphic designers as an embedded language. It's used by gamers writing mods for games. The list goes on. Many of those people have NO INTEREST in learning to program Python efficiently. An awful lot won't learn any Python, they'll just copy some code off the web and fiddle with it to get the results they want. They just want to get a job done, and for them, even a single non-standard character is probably a major barrier. They certainly aren't going to put stickers on their keys, or use a reference card to know how to type operators.
To be blunt, there's good reasons APL never took off with the general programming community. If we are to learn any lessons about the good features in APL, we need to understand those reasons and accept their validity first. And I'm pretty certain that "weird character set" would turn out to be one of them...
There was a version of APL on the Sinclair QL, which, IIRC, replaced the symbols with keywords. I don't know how well it did.