Language change and code breaks

Mikael Olofsson mikael at
Fri Jul 20 12:07:07 EDT 2001

On 20-Jul-2001 Guido van Rossum wrote:
 >  Mikael Olofsson <mikael at> writes:
 > > That comment was not necessary. What Bruce must mean is that the average
 > > length of an identifier will be larger with case insensitiveness than 
 > > with case sensitiveness. I am sure you understood that.
 >  I apologize for the comment.  But I don't find the argument (that
 >  case-sensitivity reduces the expressivity or the number of available
 >  good identifiers) convincing at all.  Given that in current code,
 >  case-insensitive name clashes are very rare, I don't believe for a
 >  second that the average identifier length will go up.  If you use this
 >  a lot (message = Message() etc.) your code is less readable than it
 >  should be.  It also makes it harder to discuss code in person or over
 >  the phone -- spoken language is not case-preserving, as anyone who has
 >  tried to give someone a URL over the phone knows. :-)

I didn't say that I agree with Bruce. I was only a bit surprised to see 
spanking on, especially delivered by you. Well, I guess it proves
that you're only human after all.

I do agree that things like message = Message() does make my code less
readable. I must confess that I do that occationally, but only when 
there is only supposed to be one instance of a specific class. Then 
again, I never write large programs and I don't consider myself being a
programmer. I'm an electrical engineer who does some programming from 
time to time, as most engineers today (I guess). But I would not call
myself a non-programmer either. At least I'm being paid to do the 
programming I do.

I still maintain a neutral position in this discussion. I guess I can
live with any sensitivity-version of python. I have programmed in both
case-sensitive, case-insensitive, and single-case environments, and 
I have never thought that case was a problem. All I thought in the 
beginning of each experience was "Oh, that's how this thing works? Ok!".
But if I recall correctly, the version(s) of Basic that was my first 
programming experience only allowed identifiers like A and A1 for numbers 
and A¤ and A1¤ for strings. Yes, exactly one letter followed by at most 
one digit. Now *that* was a problem. I hated it even when I wrote 
10 line programs using only a handfull of variables. Even then I thought
that appending ¤ to mark strings was ridiculous. But it did make the 
variable space twice as big as it would have been without it.

And-now-home-for-dinner-ly y'rs


E-Mail:  Mikael Olofsson <mikael at>
Phone:   +46 - (0)13 - 28 1343
Telefax: +46 - (0)13 - 28 1339
Date:    20-Jul-2001
Time:    17:05:09

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