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

Robert Citek rwcitek at uci.edu
Mon May 22 02:11:25 CEST 2000


At 11:44 AM 5/21/00 GMT, Fredrik Lundh wrote:
>Robert Citek <rwcitek at uci.edu> wrote:> 
>> >Did he try a Python that was case-insensitive?
>> 
>> Excellent point.  Guido, you are assuming that when you make Python
>> case-insensitive the students will have an easier time learning Python.  Is
>> this assumption true?  The answer may depend on how "case-insensitive" is
>> implemented.  Has anyone tested this assumption (perhaps with another
>> language)?
>
>Guido's not assuming anything; he has read research papers and talked
>to the researchers, just like he did when he "stole" a lot of unconventional
>ideas from ABC.
>
>so instead of assuming that people don't know what they're talking about,
>how about reading up on the Alice project yourself?

Thanks for the reference and the quote.  Here is a snippet from it:

    "I note with some embarrassment that Hypercard, Pascal and LOGO
    were designed for novice or infrequent programmers and each was
    case insensitive.  It may be that Microsoft's Visual Basic programming
    environment provides the best of both worlds by following the user
    to type in a case-insensitive way, while the programming environment
    applies the proper case to the program text on behalf of the user
    whenever possible."

And here is my quote from my previous post:

>I tend to agree with those who have suggested making the programming
>environment (IDLE or others) handle any case-consistency issues.  The IDE
>with Visual Basic is one model that handles case-consistency relatively
>painlessly.

My comment doesn't sound so different from the Alice dissertation.

In short, my points were:
1) making a language case-insensitive may not make learning/programming
Python any easier.
2) what "case-insensitive" means depends on implementation.  VB is still a
case-sensitive language, but the development environment adjusts for any
misspellings "on behalf of the user."  Python could follow a similar model:
the language itself remains  case-sensitive, but the development
environment can be modified to fit the programmers style including handling
case.

As for assuming, that was a poor word choice on my part.  Perhaps, I should
have used "implying."  I certainly did not intend to imply that Guido or
anyone else does not know what they are talking about.  Yet, Guido's
proposal of making Python case-insensitive does imply many things, leaving
a reader/user like me to make half-baked assumptions.  So, let me rephrase
that as a question:

What does Guido hope to accomplish by making Python case-insensitive?

Regards,
- Robert





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