Case insensitivity

Paul Sidorsky paulsid at
Fri Jul 20 21:31:07 CEST 2001

Gustavo Niemeyer wrote:

> Indeed, I don't think case-sensitiveness is something that will help
> non-programmers to get used to the language. You have so many factors
> to learn when you're starting, case sensitiveness will be just one more
> behavior of the language (not a wart at all).  

And I think if it is an issue, it's an extremely minor one at most. 
When I try to convey computer commands, URLs, etc. to those who don't
have much experience using computers, I often hear "all caps?", "all
lower case?", "capital P in print?", etc.  Even after saying "it doesn't
matter", people will often continue to type things in the way they've
seen them or the way they "think" they should be.  To me this suggests
that case-sensitivity is inherently present in most people, or at least
that people naturally associate computers and case-sensitivity anyhow.

> On the other hand, I
> think that, if you create a case-insensitive tool or command line option
> and let users get used to it, it'll take forever to learn how to program
> in sensitive mode.

Well, having come from BASIC (where such editors abound) to C I can say
that for myself at least there was no trouble.  Actually it was a relief
not to have the editor constantly fixing up my typing.  But of course
that doesn't prove anything...

However, one difference was that in the BASICs I grew up with their
editors were used by all but a tiny minority of the people programming
in them.  In Python people use all kinds of different editors, across
different platforms even.  IMO what will inevitably happen is that
people will be taught Python using a "helpful" editor and then sooner or
later have to start coping with more conventional editors that don't
bail them out.  

I think it's a small deal to be taught to work around a minor wart (if
case-sensitivity can indeed be called such a thing) from the beginning
but it's much more shocking to be "coddled" by an editor and then be
forced to adjust long after the fact.

Paul Sidorsky                                          Calgary, Canada
paulsid at            

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