The people who design languages are the people who write the compilers and system classes. Quite naturally they design to make their work easy and mathematically elegant. However, there are 10,000 maintenance programmers to every compiler writer. The grunt maintenance programmers have absolutely no say in the design of languages. Yet the total amount of code they write dwarfs the code in the compilers.
Food vs Drug
What is the difference between a food and a drug?
Food vs Drug Food vs Drug Food Drug Can safely be eaten in large quantities. Must be eaten in small precisely specified dosages. Not formally tested, but uses ingredients believed to be safe from thousands of years of use. Very carefully tested. Eaten by everyone, young and old, healthy and sick. Only eaten by people with very specific diseases or conditions. A food should have no negative side effects, other than making you fat if you eat too much of it. There is no pressing need to eat any particular food. If a cancer drug makes your hair fall out and makes you nauseous, even this can be tolerated so long as it cures the cancer.
Consider Proctor & Gamble introducing transfat (brand name Crisco). Consider Monsanto introducing genetically modified foods where genes from various species and artificial genes are mixed to form new foods. Consider DuPont’s fluoride. Consider food irradiation. These foods should be treated more like drugs because:
- They have not yet been tested by time the way ordinary foods are.
- The consequences are much larger than for drugs since the entire population may ingest large quantities.
Besides testing, we need labelling both so that people can opt out of the experimental foods and so that people can track the negative side effects. If people are denied the knowledge they are eating these experimental foods, they will not consider those foods as a possible cause of some symptom. Their doctor cannot consider them either.
The creators of these foods strenuously and successfully resist even allowing competitors to label their foods as being free of these new ingredients. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, willing slave of the food manufacturers, and willing acceptor of contributions, enacted laws to keep consumers in the dark about what they are eating. There is no advantage to the consumer of doing that.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
An example of the result of this sort of elitist thinking is the JDBC (Java Data Base Connectivity) interface. It makes life easy for the JDBC implementor, but a nightmare for the maintenance programmer. It is far clumsier than the FØRTRAN interface that came out with SQL (Standard Query Language) three decades ago.
Maintenance programmers, if somebody ever consulted them, would demand ways to hide the housekeeping details so they could see the forest for the trees. They would demand all sorts of shortcuts so they would not have to type so much and so they could see more of the program at once on the screen. They would complain loudly about the myriad petty time-wasting tasks the compilers demand of them.
There are some efforts in this direction: NetRexx, Bali and visual editors (e.g. IBM (International Business Machines) ’s Visual Age is a start) that can collapse detail irrelevant to the current purpose.
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