Minor observation on the programming enterprise (was: Python for large projects)

Cameron Laird claird at lairds.com
Sun Mar 28 18:42:49 CEST 2004

In article <8ef9bea6.0403260837.72a8fade at posting.google.com>,
Hung Jung Lu <hungjunglu at yahoo.com> wrote:
>(a) In compiled language like C++, changing function prototypes and
>variable names is comfortable, because the compiler will find all
>those spots that you need to change. In Python, you do not have the
>same level of comfort. Sure, there are other techniques, but it's
>different than clicking a button.
Remarkable fact that I see as turning up all over:  we work with
grep(1).  There are visual programming and language-savvy editors
and IDEs and refactoring plugins and all sorts of other tools, 
and we find our variables with text searches.  'Know how to make
a C programmer mad?  Name a global variable 'i'.  'Know how to
make him happy?  Change the name to 'ii'.  Both Lisp's inventor
and I keep our human address collection in a plaintext file.

It's as though humans tried for thousands of years to come up
with better ways to hit things, and kept returning to the idea of
a hammer.

Oh.  We have.

I'm not sure what to conclude.  It's one of the things that
civilians have a hard time appreciating, though.  "Good names"
are incredibly important in our quotidian work, as mundane as
they simultaneously are.

Cameron Laird <claird at phaseit.net>
Business:  http://www.Phaseit.net

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