Re: [RFC] Draft Proposal for New Python Syntax

Thomas Kofler (
Fri, 27 May 1994 20:50:53 GMT

Many contributions about indentation, block
closers, proposal for syntax changes, etc.

All you Python people!

I am very pleased that little flamage but many interesting postings
were made on my draft proposal for a syntax change in Python:
Thank you very much! In particular, thanks to Guido van Rossum,
because he took the pain to formulate a carefully crafted response.
Thanks also to Michael McLay for acting as a "advocatus diavoli".

Careful consideration of all the statements took some time. Providing
a response takes even more time. Please excuse me if I do not explicitly
address every posting.

The draft proposal, as it stands, was clearly rejected by the majority.
The most important reason is that the proposed syntax lacks of
backward compatibility. Gary Capell said that it might be the last
chance NOW to change the language in a major way. For the majority of
the posters, it is already too late. Backward compatility not only
concerns source code but also derivate products like documentation and
software dealing with Python source code. <> wrote:
>Before crafting a new proposal we need to figure out what problem we
>need to solve to make the largest number of people happy, within the
>constraints of backward compatibility.

I agree with that. I would like to add that, once there is agreement on
what to solve, the solution should really solve the problem. For
instance, optional block closers as suggested are not enough because
programmers are free not use it.

Consequently, I withdraw this draft proposal. I am considering
to re-launch an improved draft proposal that:
- discusses why eliminating all syntactic white space is
a valuable goal in general (ie, not only for me and my projects)
- addresses backward compatibility

I would like to invite all the people sharing my aim of eliminating all
syntactic white space in an optional syntax to participate.

The mixed-mode approaches proposed by Donald Beaudry, Steven Miale, and
other people, are appealing on first sight. In my eyes, a mixed-mode
approach is problematic, however. This is why I would like to provide
backward compatibility by a pragma (Actually, the second revision of my
draft, which was not published, suggested that).

BTW: I am glad to see that Guido could accept the use pragmas provided
there is a well-founded agreement on what problems should be solved.

Let me close with a remark. It surprises me that some have little
confidence in other programmers. My experience after programming more
than ten years is that good software written by good programmers is
always written in a comfortable style (much as there are many different

-- Thomas.

Thomas Kofler |Email:
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