Language change and code breaks

Clive Page cgp at
Thu Jul 19 10:38:47 CEST 2001

In article <cpvgkq1f2b.fsf at>,
Guido van Rossum  <guido at> wrote:

>But it's still open for debate whether the problem here is Windows or
>Unix!  All programming languages and file systems used to be
>case-insensitive, until the designers of Unix and C decided that it
>was too much work to write and use a case-insensitive comparison
>routine.  It wasn't necessarily intended to be better, just easier to
>implement.  But times have changed, and that's a lousy excuse.

As this thread has shown, nearly everyone has an opinion on this.  For what
it's worth, I've been using Unix for nearly 20 years and I still get caught
regularly by its case sensitivity, and I don't like it at all.  Of course
my opinion is worth almost nothing, but there are some facts worth noting:

I'm pretty sure I've seen a study in one of the reputable computer science
journals reporting a trial of two sets of users with two invented computer
languages, identical except that one was case-blind and the other was case
sensitive.  It showed that people made significantly more mistakes with a
case-sensitive language.  Unfortunately I didn't keep the reference -
maybe someone else remembers it too?   To me the results of that study
were pretty conclusive.   

Clive Page   cgp at

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