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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

From one of my favorite contributors to Lambda the Ultimate...

Frank Atanassow - Re: Tunneling Variables  
4/20/2004; 11:07:06 AM (reads: 101, responses: 0)

The markup language community is notorious for reinventing and duplicating concepts and terminology, sometimes even their own. Thus they have "minimum literals" rather than "string literals", "parameter entities" rather than "macros", "templates" rather than "procedures" or "functions", "validate" rather "type-check", "data binding" rather than "translation", "unmarshal" rather than "parse" et cetera.

I long ago gave up trying to get them to use conventional terminology; for them to acknowledge prior art would require them to acknowledge some unpleasant facts, like that story about the emperor and his new clothes.

OTOH, there are typically a dozen, largely pointless, technical reasons why one should use more conventional names for most of these things; their semantics differ in some corner case, or has been made more convoluted to handle some special situation which could actually have been handled more cleanly and less artificially by generalizing some other construct. (This is what I discovered when I wrote a paper based on a formal semantics of XML Schema.) Probably tunnel variables differ from implicit parameters/dynamic scoping in such a way.

It's really a big mess. I try to stay out of it. Let them build their sand castles where they like. Next year they will publish another twenty W3C recommendations and ISO standards to address the special cases in the corner cases at the fenceposts anyway.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.