Case insensitivity

Aahz Maruch aahz at panix.com
Fri Jul 27 22:26:39 CEST 2001


[Okay, I posted one silly response to Guido before OSCON; now that I'm
back home, let's try for a more considered one.]

In article <cpvgkofyru.fsf at cj20424-a.reston1.va.home.com>,
Guido van Rossum  <guido at python.org> wrote:
>
>Anyway, I wasn't trying to do anything of the sort -- I was indicating
>I have a right to be torn over this issue, since strong arguments can
>be made for both cases.
>
>Several people whom I respect have strongly suggested that if Python
>wants to appeal to non-programmers, it should be case-insensitive.
>(Leaving apart details of how to implement that; I agree that it
>should be case-preserving.)  Others, whome I respect just as much,
>feel that it should be case-sensitive.

For users who start with case-sensitive languages such as English (or
are at least familiar with English or another case-sensitive language),
I believe that case sensitivity as a concept is easy to learn.  I think
that for such users, case sensitivity is ultimately a benefit to
literate programming; at the very least, I've never heard anyone
complain about case-sensitivity once it was pointed out that language
works the same way.

OTOH, I can see that someone who is familiar only with languages that do
not possess case might face some difficulty.

On the gripping hand, given that Python is already case-sensitive and
that there are reasonable arguments in favor of case-sensitivity, I
think the burden should lie on those who want to remove case-sensitivity
to produce an especially powerful argument to change Python's behavior,
particularly given the (IMO) reasonable suggestion that we can create
tools that emulate case-insensitivity for beginning programmers if we
wish.
-- 
                      --- Aahz  <*>  (Copyright 2001 by aahz at pobox.com)

Hugs and backrubs -- I break Rule 6                 http://www.rahul.net/aahz/
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