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* And Rosta said on 2004-04-01 00:03:07 +0200
> > I wrote:
> > > Being a syntactician and not a programmer, I wonder why
> > > programmers don't use trees [..]
> >
> Chris Palmer replies:
> > [..] it turns out to be a really bad (= difficult and slow) way for
> > humans to write code. Instead, most programming languages end up
> > allowing the user to write a series of smaller trees ("statements"
> > made up of "expressions").
>
> I meant trees not as a mathematical structure but as a graphical
> notation device, contrasting with bracketing and indentation, the
> opposing merits of which were being debated in the passage I had been
> responding to. Syntacticians would never use indentation or bracketing
> for complex structures, since experience shows that they're much
> harder to read than tree notation.

Ah, but how many tens of thousands of branches per single tree do the
average syntactitican operate with at a time? For small things, I agree,
trees are better, but for larger programs you aren't going to remember
all of the great monster anyway, instead keeping a vague notion of the
whole, the tiny spot you're currently working on and its immediate
context (callers, users etc.). Then there is the problem of finding
programs and editors capable of showing things as trees of course. As it
is now, you can use ridiculously primitive tools to go fix something if
the fancy ones are having a bad hair day.

> Mark Reed replies:
> > Are the speakers of the world gulity of cerebrally masochistic
> > machismo for not speaking in trees?  For not using trees for all
> > written communication?    Should we use clickable TreeViews to
> > construct our email messages?
>
> No, partly because we are fluent in English so don't need to use any
> kind of syntactic notation, and partly because we are humans so don't
> worry very much about broken syntax.

It's rarely the syntax that is broken (that is a sure newbie-sign), much
more usual are typos and logic errors or forgetting to take heed of
someting potentially being foobared on the machine the thing will run on
and you won't catch those with trees.


t.