Case-sensitivity: why -- or why not? (was Re: Damnation!)

Daniel T. danielt3 at
Thu May 25 23:23:17 EDT 2000

In article <naNQvMAD8aL5Ewhx at>, Ian Parker <parker at> wrote:

>In article <CF125757AB5DD5D5.094581AB6FCF9F26.41037540192780A3 at lp.airnew
>>, Tres Seaver <tseaver at> writes
>>In article <3929D3F6.DE9CCCBC at>,
>>Paul Prescod  <paul at> wrote:
>>>> However, I am having trouble imagining how removing case-sensitivity from 
>>>> the language could improve usablility for any programmer, regardless of 
>>>> his/her skill level.  Most people seem to have no particular trouble with 
>>>> case-sensitivity in natural languages; 
>>>If you review the variety of formatting conventions in this list, you'll
>>>find that that is not the case. Guido himself documented how people
>>>speak of the String and FTPLib modules and python programming language.
>>>> why should a computer language be any different?  On the other hand, 
>>>> maybe I am just too ingrained in my old thought patterns.
>>>I prefer case sensitivity. But I think that most of the arguments people
>>>make in favor of it are bunk. 
>>>1. If you spend time with newbies -- especially Windows-trained newbiews
>>>-- you will note the case sensitivity is a problem.
>>>2. Code written in a case insensitive language is roughly as robust and
>>>readable as that in a case sensitive language.
>>As one who has worked for a long time in a case-insensitive language
>>(ObjectPascal), I cannot disagree more strongly.  ObjectPascal code
>>which is written by case-neglecting programmers is painful to read,
>>and harder to maintain.  It *also* tends to be sloppier, and therefore
>>buggier, in other ways (fencposts, etc.)
>>Case sensistivity provides exactly the same kind of benefit as indentation:
>>it reduces the space in which individual "style" impacts the code, in order
>>to increase sharability of code.
>I've also worked for a very long time in case-insensitive languages.
>I'd thought that I wasn't too bothered either way. However, you've just
>persuaded me that case sensitivity probably is better.

I don't know about the above. At my present workplace, we use C++, I have
to deal with reams of variables who's only difference is the case. If we
used a case insensitive language, this would not be a problem.

I also personally find it much easer if I don't have to worry about
whether the variables name is seatbelt, or seatBelt. :-)

When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy,
it ceases to be a subject of interest.
                                                   -- William Hazlitt

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