|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Re: Larry vs. Joel vs. Ovidby footpad (Monsignor)
|on Nov 21, 2001 at 03:35 UTC||Need Help??|
Hm. It's possible we interpret Larry's comment differently. Here's how I paraphrase it: "Forgive liberally; act responsibly. Communicate!"
I base that on a larger reading of the quote in question:
Of course, in Perl culture, almost nothing is prohibited. My feeling is that the rest of the world already has plenty of perfectly good prohibitions, so why invent more? That applies not just to programming, but also to interpersonal relationships, by the way. I have upon more than one occasion been requested to eject someone from the Perl community, generally for being offensive in some fashion or other. So far I have consistently refused. I believe this is the right policy. At least, it's worked so far, on a practical level. Either the offensive person has left eventually of their own accord, or they've settled down and learned to deal with others more constructively. It's odd. People understand instinctively that the best way for computer programs to communicate with each other is for each of the them to be strict in what they emit, and liberal in what they accept. The odd thing is that people themselves are not willing to be strict in how they speak and liberal in how they listen. You'd think that would also be obvious. Instead, we're taught to express ourselves.
I think my paraphrase fits the original context of this and other remarks by Larry.
It also suggests, I think, a rather simple solution to the "HTML problem." If browsers implemented a small indicator (or a toolbar button) that changed state when faced with malformed HTML (CSS, XML, or whatever), the person browsing the content could trigger a report of the problems. Something like this would be nice:
(It would be even nicer if the report could then be emailed to someone, such as the contact person of the site in question.)
Update for no_slogan: OTOH, it just might be impetus to fix the problems, donch'a think? Still, I was thinking of the idea for the people designing the site, then previewing the results. Given that, we could dispense with the email thing...just so long as the report is easily saveable to text.
This approach handles the problems that tye wants to prevent, provides an active solution, and lends itself to handling other problems that you (and Joel) mentioned. Consider:
I do agree that Design By Contract is a Very Good Thing®; however, part of the contract is letting others know when the contract has been broken. (For more on the subject, I highly recommend The Pragmatic Programmer, which devotes a major section to the subject and also provides an interesting variation of Larry's comment.)
In short, I think Larry's spot on with his comment. We should forgive liberally, act responsibly, *and* communicate...just be nice about it. (Remember the last rule of perlstyle.)
Just because we're not good at something doesn't mean we should stop trying to practice it. There is, after all, only one way to get to Carnegie Hall.