new years resolutions

Mike Meyer mwm at
Fri Jan 3 05:14:19 CET 2003

Peter Hansen <peter at> writes:
> Dennis Lee Bieber wrote:
> > eltronic at fed this fish to the penguins on Thursday 02 January
> > 2003 03:34 pm:
> > > HTML is a programming language, why else would I have to debug it?
> >         Then news posts and email are programming languages too, as I have to
> > debug (spell-check) them <G>
> I see the grin, but note that this is exactly why those
> are *not* programming languages, while HTML definitely is.
> If you write the wrong HTML, the computer does not do what it is
> supposed to do, while if you put the wrong content in your email
> or news post, only humans mind.

Now you're defining a programming language as something written while
programming, and programming as a process that includes debugging.

Which means that the secretary using word to whip up HTML isn't
programming, because he doesn't debug it. Neither is what I do,
because I don't debug it either; I just run validators over it to make
sure the markup and links are correct. That's essentially the same as
the spelling and diction checking I do on ASCII text.

Personally, I think that insisting that programming languages be
turing complete is a better definition, because it captures the
essence of what programming is. I'm quite happy saying that any
language that isn't turing complete isn't a programming language.

Mike Meyer <mwm at>
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.

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