OT: spacing of code in Google Groups

Peter Hansen peter at engcorp.com
Thu Jan 6 16:36:28 CET 2005

Jacek Generowicz wrote:
> Peter Hansen <peter at engcorp.com> writes:
>>Why the heck would I ever have to do "rectangle operations" on a
>>regular basis?  ;-)
> Well, given that all editors are cat equivalent[*], you don't _have_
> to use any of their features :-)

This "cat equivalent" thing is a red-herring.  I can rarely type more
than a line of code without making a typographical error.  Sometimes
I won't catch that error until a bit later.  Using "cat" alone would
provide me little opportunity to fix the error, so I would never
be able to produce a working program longer than a few lines.

You might call this simply "less productive" (though I'd argue
it becomes a qualitative difference).  But, okay, let's work from there...

> But just like Python (particularly in the hands of a skilled Python
> programmer) is more productive than a Turing Machine, any featureful
> editor (in the hands of an experienced user) is far more productive
> than "cat > file".

I don't disagree.  I do, however, claim that the set of features
that are required to make *me* orders of magnitude more productive
than "cat" (to use your quantitative comparison) is very, very small.

And that I use less than 2% of the features most editors have.

And that if a programmer with equal abilities managed to learn to
use 98% of the features of such an editor, such that he could
readily use whichever such feature was most effective at any given
time, he would not be more than 10% more effective than I am.

But the whole argument is fairly moot...  I've needed a rectangle
operation only once in the last ten years, and if I hadn't known at
the time that my editor could do it (and spent about half an hour
figuring out how it worked), I could have written a utility to
do the job faster if I'd been using Python at the time...


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