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

Martijn Faassen m.faassen at vet.uu.nl
Mon May 22 12:10:52 CEST 2000


Fredrik Lundh <effbot at telia.com> wrote:
[snip]
>     "Python is case sensitive. While we, as programmers, were com-
>     fortable with this language feature, our user community suffered
>     much confusion over it. At least 85% of users who were observed
>     using the Alice tutorial made a case error at some point during the
>     experience.

This is about *Alice*, not about Python, the programming language.

Is this the same Alice tutorial that comes with Alice when you download it?
There's not a single line of Python in that. There *are* Python names
in there, but not a line of Python code, as far as I recall.

> While explaining the case rule was simple enough
> ("upper and lower case mean different things to Alice"), this was
> not sufficient to instill a "case aware" sense in our users.  Of the
> users who had problems with case, most continued to type case-
> incorrect tokens in their programs for a short period.

This would indicate that they were writing Python code later. Note the
'short period'.

> Coming to
> terms with case sensitivity is a difficult skill for many to learn, a
> fact that can often be lost on experienced programmers."

"Coming to terms with indentation is a difficult skill for many to learn,.."

"Coming to terms with variables.."

"Coming to terms with mutable versus immutable variables.."

There are a lot of things that we could do to make Python easier to
learn for newbies. Let the editor mark names that refer to 
immutable objects in a special color. I think case insensitivity 
is insignificant to what you can do with a decent IDE, except that
it trips up half of the experienced programmers. :)

You-can-do-case-insensitivity-with-a-decent-IDE-ly yours,

Martijn
-- 
History of the 20th Century: WW1, WW2, WW3?
No, WWW -- Could we be going in the right direction?



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