[self-interest] Re: Grammar changes - comments?

Gilad Bracha gilad.bracha at eng.sun.com
Tue Aug 31 22:53:58 UTC 1999

At 06:30 AM 8/31/99 , Jecel Assumpcao Jr wrote:
>Steve Dekorte wrote:
>> A number of other dynamic scripting languages have also taken up the
>> C++ prefix message syntax.
>As far as I can tell, this syntax originated with Apple's Object
>Pascal (I don't know what Simula looked like). 

As I recall, Simula looked pretty much the same. And any language that
combined the common record selection syntax, the common function/procedure
call syntax and first class functions/procedures ends up with the same thing.

>Please note that I think syntax doesn't matter - the future of
>Self is to be more and more graphical. Outliners, for example,
>have eliminated the need to bother with slot declaration syntax
>for the most part (though they could do a better job). The
>syntax for sending messages to object will probably go the
>same way eventually.

Concrete syntax shouldn't matter very much, but it does. Most programmers
cannot distinguish between a language and its concrete syntax. Java was
originally marketed as a C++ variant, even though it's dynamic semantics
are closer to Smalltalk. 

BTW, I am sure that textual syntax for expressions will be with us for a
very long time. 

While I'm on the topic: Smalltalk syntax has one minor property that is
kind of nice - it is impossible to give the wrong number of arguments. On
the other hand, it makes supporting optional arguments awkward.

Cheers,  Gilad

Gilad Bracha
Computational Theologist
Sun Java Software

More information about the Self-interest mailing list