28 Jul 2003 chalst   » (Master)

Indentation-based LISPs
zhaoway writes about his ideas for an alternative syntax for scheme. There's been some experimentation with Haskell/Python -style indentation based syntaxes for LISPs. Check out:
  • This USENET post of Paul Hernhout from 2000 outlining such an example.
  • This post of Peter Norvig, from the same thread, arguing for the naturality of indentation.
  • This post, also in the same thread, by Eric Naggum argues that indentation based syntax is a bad thing for LISP-like languages since it breaks the important similarity between internal representation and programmer representation that is so important for macro programming.
I also remember reading in comp.lang.scheme about someone who used such an approach in teaching scheme (training wheels for LISP syntax?), but I've lost the reference.

zhaoway also comments on the difficulty of getting lex/yacc to handle non C-like syntaxes, by which I guess he means indentation-based syntaxes. Yes, this is an acknowledged problem with lex/yacc: Mike Spivey was the first to tell me of the problem. It's not impossible to do this: lex does allow you to call arbitrary C code when lexing; but I think there is no clean way to do this. Maybe, as a challenge, some lex guru here can show a clean way of doing this.

Postscript: Politics on Advogato
kilmo sort-of reversed his earlier stance against politics on advogato stance due to irritation at ignorance, to post the first in a promised series on Israeli history. It's a nice start, I have some quibbles, but he hasn't yet touched upon the really interesting part of the regional history (and Daniel Bernstein's guest post at the Volokh conspiracy covers more of this history). I'd like to make a couple of points about politics on advogato:

  • Firstly, I don't want to run different weblogs, I like being part of the advogato community, and I want to post about politics. The idea that there is a tension between content on free software and other topics has led raph first to propose a system of sections, and later to create his own personal blog server. The first didn't catch on, the second I don't like since it means I have to read several different places to keep track of all the things that are going on with raph...
  • Secondly, just how bad for the free software are posts about politics? I'm guessing that the suspicion about political content here has been due to mglazer's abuse of this forum. But here I think the problem has been not with mglazer's views per se, but the offensive manner in which he frequently framed his views. While we have had problems with other political views put across offensively, I think we have had less problem with that than with offensively made views about developer and free software issues, and I think that diary ratings have pretty much solved the problem.
So I think there is a place for politics on advogato. Am I out of touch on this?

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