[Edu-sig] Musings on PEP8

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Jul 17 19:46:34 CEST 2011

I find myself thinking about PEP8 a lot, not that I have it memorized.

Now that Unicode reigns at the top-level, we've got an influx of
Chinese namespaces, Hindi namespaces, Cyrillic namespaces...
a nice long list, and the PEP8 conventions regarding capitalization,
while sensible in Latin-1, might not cover the new cases (I say
"might not" with some sarcasm, or an innocent stare (playing
it straight)).

I've seen arguments in diversity-minded circles that straying
from Latin-1 top-level will obliterate the open source nature of
open source, with many a Chinese engineer welcoming the
advantages of a world around simple base cases, the old
ASCII, a mother tongue of computer scientists (more so than
EBCDIC even (sarcasm again)).


The inter-readability of Latin-1 means lots of headaches removed,
like at least *something* positive came out of that Roman period
(as a child of Rome, I get to sound chiding).

The flip side argument, which I find more persuasive, is that
one of the biggest barriers to diversity is over-reliance on Latin-1,
and "just ASCII" in particular.

I heard those cheers in Vilnius, when Guido talked about the brave
new Unicode world.  Google's blogger interface switches to
Lithuanian automatically when that's your timezone, or however
it's figured.  Lots of alphabetical markings you might not find in Latin-1.


The whole point of Unicode was to open up source code writing,
as an occupation, to more than just Euro-English speakers.
The bridge has been built and Python has already crossed
over it.


None of which is to say that knowledge of Latin-1 is dispensable.
My first chapters in Naming and Ordering per MathFuture threads
(also Cardinality vs Ordinality) starts with "mappings" (the usual
approach to functions per Dolciani) with familiar glyphs (we're
learning them anyway in learning to read a native language),
pairing with ASCII and Unicode bytecodes.

Yes, it's a long discussion (UTF8 vs UTF32 etc) but we're
talking about time slices and repeated revisits in a spiraling
trajectory (per Saxon treatments).

So even if the bulk of your coding is in some Thai characterset,
you're quite familiar with the lower 128 in the Unicode codespace.
Python itself has 33 keywords and a large number of builtins,
such that "average Python" might look like Romanji-intensive
Japanese, i.e. "heavy on the Latin-1 pepper, other spices" (yet
lots of room for top-level class, function, variable names, libraries
stuffed with them, all outside Latin-1).

These concerns have been a long term focus, and continue
to be, as Python students I encounter may be there for work
and that may mean using non-Latin-1 Python namespaces
much of the time.

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