Case sensitivity

Alex Martelli aleax at
Fri Feb 21 23:05:54 CET 2003

rzed wrote:
> I agree with your hint that a consistent naming convention would be a
> good thing, but in truth, it's not hard to explain case sensitivity
> (or the need for it) to people who use the convention in their own
> names.
> Explain to a beginner why Coke is not the same as coke. People make
> the distinction all the time. Who's to say it's either good or bad?
> It's just something people do.

No.  If you write a dealer ordering a costly computer with an
Intel Cpu, the dealer will not snap back at you refusing your
order because no firm called "Intel" nor any product known as
a "Cpu" is known to them -- they'll be quite glad to make their
profits on an "intel CPU" even though your capitalization didn't
match the way these words "should" be capitalized.  Similarly,
no bookseller will refuse to make money if you order in writing
a book by "E. E. Cummings" rather than "e.e.cummings", and the
like.  Case-*preserving* systems are OK.  Case-*sensitive* ones
means that you'll get an error if you get the capitalization
wrong, so you have to memorize (or continuously check) those
arbitrary capitalizations.  Such arbitrary errors and extra need
for memorization or checks reduce productivity, and they're NOT
"something people do" -- it's something _computers_ do when they
are programmed without due regards for human factors / usability.


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