[plt-scheme] Scheme contradictions

From: Erich Rast (erich at snafu.de)
Date: Fri May 5 04:22:21 EDT 2006

I shouldn't jump in, since this is a rather worn-out topic, but I can't 
resist (sorry!) and so here are my two cents:

Some of the suggestions for alternative, usually ALGOL style syntax for 
LISP I've seen so far in my opinion were too half-harted or too much 
focused on elegancy instead of practical usefulness. If a block syntax 
is used, it should be as conventional as possible. Expressions should 
have infix operators with precedence rules and without whitespace in 
between, so the letters allowed in non-escaped identifiers would have 
to be as limited as in other languages. In my personal opinion, the 
only sane choices would be Python syntax or VB/RB-style implicit block 
syntax (with an end statement). Others will probably have different 

Scheme programs are generally hard to read. But I don't think this is 
because of the s-expression syntax, but rather because of the advanced 
programming concepts Scheme programmers tend to use, and in case of 
Scheme also due to lack of a  function documentation facility built 
into the language.

By the way, it is my impression that the syntax of programming 
languages has absolutely no impact on their success as widespread, 
general purpose tools. The main factor for their success seems to be 
the number of libraries, GUI building tools, and RAD tools available. 
The more a language has to offer out-of-the-box to the programmer, the 
more people will likely find it useful.

Some of the many computer scientists on this list might consider 
inventing an XML-based algorithmic library/module interchange language 
whose only purpose was the buliding of huge library collections that 
can be used in any language that implements the interchange format.

Best regards,


Am 04.05.2006 um 15:27 schrieb Vladimir Zlatanov:

> Maybe it can be a good thing to add python/ruby/haskell like layout
> syntax. I know there were experiments flying around. Recently Peter
> Schombert wrote an anlysis in his blog about it:
>    http://pschombe.wordpress.com/2006/04/16/lisp-without-parentheses
> I think it is a good idea, at least for people with experience in other
> languages, to come to the lisp family. It is kind of syntactic sugar,
> which can increase the readability of a program.

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