[plt-dev] language dialog, some minor changes & bugfixes

From: Carl Eastlund (carl.eastlund at gmail.com)
Date: Fri Jan 29 15:26:53 EST 2010

On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:21 PM, Eli Barzilay <eli at barzilay.org> wrote:
> On Jan 29, Carl Eastlund wrote:
>> On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:11 PM, Eli Barzilay <eli at barzilay.org> wrote:
>> > On Jan 29, Robby Findler wrote:
>> >> And finally, one question: for the "what do I do to get started" ie
>> >> the "not really a language" language? It should probably change
>> >> somehow or maybe just go away. Opinions? (This is the language that
>> >> you get if you delete your prefs and start up drscheem; there isn't
>> >> another simple way to get there).
>> >
>> > I vote for retiring it...
>> Why?  Have our students suddenly achieved mastery over #lang?  That
>> was the problem, right?
> No, the problem that it addressed was in the days where the default
> language was beginner.  The move was from that as the default, to "no
> language" as the new default -- and the idea was that everyone should
> choose the language.  `Module' is now easier to use since it has a
> good default, so forcing people to view the language dialog no longer
> serves any practical purpose.  IMO.

If beginner was the default, certainly anyone not wanting beginner
might have a problem, but I think any default language will have the
same problem.  Students or programmers of any sort will start
programming, and get error messages in terms of language constructs
they've never heard of, or that they expect (rightly in their intended
language) to have entirely different syntax and semantics.

Nothing about this error behavior will lead people to look at the top
line of their program and interpret it as a language specifier, unless
we change the behavior of DrScheme's error printer to add that
explanation to every exception it ever prints out.  The alternative is
the current behavior: start out with no default language, so anyone
who has not chosen a language gets told they need to, instead of
having to deal with inscrutable and irrelevant error messages.

This issue, it seems to me, applies equally well to all default
languages (and/or language levels, by which I mean modes of DrScheme
operation); picking a different one will just shift the burden from
one group of users to another.


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