[Openmcl-devel] ccl manual (was Re: trace on recursive functions)

Philippe Sismondi psismondi at arqux.com
Mon Dec 14 13:13:15 PST 2009

On 2009-12-14, at 1:48 PM, Ron Garret wrote:

> On Dec 14, 2009, at 10:31 AM, Brian Mastenbrook wrote:
>> On 12/14/2009 12:06 PM, Ron Garret wrote:
>>> On Dec 14, 2009, at 9:13 AM, Brian Mastenbrook wrote:
>>>> On 12/13/2009 7:33 PM, Ron Garret wrote:
>>>>> On Dec 13, 2009, at 12:30 PM, Brian Mastenbrook wrote:
>>>>>> I personally find editing text in S-Expressions to be incredibly
>>>>>> cumbersome. Quite a lot of my code is mixed XML/S-Expressions  
>>>>>> done with
>>>>>> a reader macro that allows me to write things like (<a  
>>>>>> href="test">
>>>>>> "Text!"), and while this works for layout in web applications  
>>>>>> I'd go mad
>>>>>> trying to read things like "This is a bit of text that has  
>>>>>> \"quotes\"
>>>>>> and \"\\"\" (backslashes) in it".
>>>>> Then I have good news for you too.  There is another cool new  
>>>>> technology called Unicode, which gives you access to additional  
>>>>> characters beyond those in the traditional ASCII repertoire.  In  
>>>>> particular, Unicode gives you access to a number of different  
>>>>> styles of balanced quotation marks.  Balanced quotation marks  
>>>>> can be nested, and also allow one level of traditional  
>>>>> unbalanced quotes to be contained, all without any escape  
>>>>> characters.  e.g.
>>>>> «Balanced quotes can be «nested» and can contain "unbalanced  
>>>>> quotation marks" without any escape characters.»
>>>> Clearly for a documentation-oriented wiki, there will be a need  
>>>> to use the standard quotation marks that Common Lisp uses. Your  
>>>> funny Unicode quotations are just constituent characters to the  
>>>> default reader.
>>> Guess what!  More good news!  (One of these days you are going to  
>>> notice a pattern developing here.)  You can actually *change* the  
>>> Lisp reader!  Yourself! Easily!
>> Yes, and if you change it enough you'll basically wind up with a  
>> reader that's customized to writing documentation. Which is exactly  
>> what the @-reader in PLT's Scribble is, which is why I pointed it  
>> out.
>> The point is that you've now gone from very simple sexps to a  
>> custom syntax that also happens to require me to change system  
>> settings in order to be able to edit it efficiently (since I assume  
>> the custom quotes will be used for all text in this documentation  
>> format; you can't very well document how to use CL strings using a  
>> non-standard reader).
>> You would do well to assume that I'm not an ignoramus. I am well  
>> versed in this wonderful Unicode and Common Lisp stuff. I am  
>> pointing out these problems because your solutions are just as  
>> complicated as the solution of using a format where text is  
>> unquoted and meta-information is escaped, with the added bonus of  
>> not shifting the burden of figuring out how to insert quotes onto  
>> the user and their level of familiarity with how to edit plists or  
>> whatever's required to make this convenient on other platforms.
> No, my solution is not "just as complicated."  My solution has one  
> very small startup cost which then pays dividends over a very long  
> period of time.  Furthermore, my solution would serve as a showcase  
> for what makes Lisp different and unique.  And finally, we're  
> talking about writing documentation here.  If we can't document the  
> process of editing keybindings well enough to serve the target  
> audience we're talking about here then we may as well just pack our  
> bags and go home.
> If we're not going to take advantage of Lisp's unique features to  
> solve our own problems how are we ever going to convince anyone else  
> that Lisp can solve their problems?  What are we even doing here?
> rg
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Ron - does the usefulness of Lisp really imply that one should re-do  
markup languages using it? Perhaps SGML and XML are ugly and sub- 
optimal. So, I guess, is HTML. But there is a wealth of new problems  
to solve (with Lisp!) without rolling our own that area.

I'm a recent convert to Lisp. I think it will solve lots of my  
problems, once I am reasonably adept with it. But not ALL of my  
problems. I am willing to bite the bullet and go with the crowd on  
some things, like markup.

It's near xmas - maybe Erik Naggum (rest in peace, Erik) will appear  
to chastise me for my idiocy. But I'm ok with a certain amount of  
cruft, if it sorta works and I can move on to other things.


  - Philippe -

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