Language change and code breaks

maxx at maxx at
Thu Jul 26 13:29:56 EDT 2001

On Wed, 25 Jul 2001 05:29:41 GMT, Guido van Rossum <guido at> wrote:

>"Joseph A. Knapka" <jknapka at> writes:
>> FWIW, I am a relative newcomer to Python, with a lot of general
>> programming experience (C,C++,Java,Tcl,Prolog,LISP,Perl...). I
>> really love Python, but making it case-insensitive would put a
>> very significant damper on my enthusiasm. Why would you want
>> to intentionally reduce the symbol space available for names?
>The number of symbols available is so much larger than the number of
>distinct names you need that the reduction is irrelevant.

Plus, the day that symbols become so numerous in code that the usage of case is
necessary to differentiate them, then software development will have become
truly too complex for mortals such as myseld.

>> Everyone knows that in normal usage, case carries meaning (bob
>> vs Bob). How could it possibly benefit the beginner to violate
>> that naive expectation? 

Because writing code is a completely different function than "normal every day
writing." Learning to write code means beginners must learn to structure their
thoughts, and organize tasks, so that their code is not a potential jumble of
ideas, as normal every day writing can be.

Creative writing and code writing are like apples and oranges. To expect that
beginners do not need this distinction is to doom them to failure. In fact, some
of the restrictions that Python places on users, forcing them to indent code for
example, is what makes the language a great training tool. 

Most every piece of problematic code I have dealt with in my career has been
difficult to work with primarily because it is poorly formatted and structured.
More often than not, I find code that does not work because novices just put
commands down in the order that they think of them, not bothering to design the
proper process flow first. Then they wind up with a malfunctioning mess that
even they cannot decipher. If they learned on languages like Python first
(instead of the popular stream of conciousness messes like VB), then they would
develop "good habits", and be more successful.

>But never mind, I'm giving up on making *Python* case-insensitive.
>The hostility of the user community is frightening.

Hear, hear! We do not want this group to become like comp.lang.perl.misc (no
flame towards the perl folks, I just could not resist a little ribbing).

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