Syntactic variability


I’ve been toying with creating an issue for these ideas, but we need to
be reducing the number of issues at this point, not increasing them, so
I keep talking myself out of it.

There is unnecessary syntactic variability in ixml that I don’t really
understand. We allow either “:” or “=” as a rule separator and we allow
either “;” or “|” as a alternative separator.

I don’t think we’re doing our users a service this way. I’m prepared to
believe that there are users who favor “:” and “;” over “=” and “|” (and
perhaps even other pairings) but I have a hard time believing that it
would be make-or-break deal for anyone: “I love the idea of ixml, but I
refuse to use “=” and “|” so I’m not going to use it.”

I tend to use, and perhaps even prefer “:” and “;”, but I propose that
we adopt “=” and “|” exclusively.

Using “=” would eliminate the ambiguity caused by colons in nonterminal
names, whether we adopt a proposal to allow that for version 1.0 or

Using “|” would reduce the syntactic similarity of “sequence” from
“alternate”. On several occasions, I have used “,” where I meant “;” and
it’s hard to see. I don’t think I would be as likely to use “,” where I
meant “|” and if I did, it would be easier to see the difference. This
is especially the case in character classes, where I’m drawn to
[',', '.'] instead of [','; '.']. I’d be better off with [',' | '.']

                                        Be seeing you,

Norm Tovey-Walsh

Received on Monday, 18 April 2022 09:27:50 UTC