utzoo!decvax!ittvax!swatt utzoo!decvax!ittvax!swatt
Mon Oct 25 10:30:20 AEST 1982

The current discussion is a perennial one, and I thought the following
might be of interest.  Please note the disclaimer.

	- Alan S. Watt

>From swatt Sun Jun  7 13:29:28 1981
To: decvax!chico!teklabs!tekmdp!stevenm
Subject: C Beautification
Cc: swatt

	From decvax!duke!chico!teklabs!tekmdp!stevenm Sat Jun  6 23:05:10 1981
	C Beautification    : NET.general,net.general

	Does anyone out there have a C indenter/paragrapher/beautifier
	which is smarter than 'cb'? I have resurrected an old one
	from U. Illinois at Urbana which accepts V6 C, and I don't feel
	like trying to upgrade it. I need something that will move
	comments around, deal intelligently with definitions, etc.

	respond to 'duke!chico!teklabs!tekmdp!stevem'


	Long time no see.  How is dear old TEK anyway?  I really don't
have any information on C beautifiers for you, but TTI* has a management
philosophy that might be applicable to the problem.  Or you can simply
tell people who write C code what indenting practices to use and cut
off the hands of the ones who don't listen.

		- Alan
 *  TTI is a ficticious company.  It stands for "Transcendental
    Telecommunications Industries" and is a multi-national conglomorate.
    Any resemblance between TTI and any real company is purely coincidental.

  1)	Convene a committee to determine the standards.  It is not
	required that any members of the committee have any C
	programming experience.  In fact, members are chosen by the
	political considerations of which groups, companies, countries,
	etc. might be offended if they were left out of the decision

  2)	Just because you have a committee doesn't mean you can actually
	meet.  Next get funding.  This process involves filing a "PAR",
	which has to list all the expected costs, all the expected
	benefits, and must show how TTI will profit from this
	endeavor.  This has to go to World Headquarters in NY for
	discussion.  Now the composition of the committee really proves
	its worth because if you had left anyone out who had any means
	of retaliation, the PAR would either get sent back on some
	technicality or die quietly in someone's office.

  2)	The above composition of the committee will help insure that any
	standard that is produced will be late, imprecise, and quite
	probably incomprehensible as well.  It is expected that during
	the definition of the C formatting standard many members of the
	committee will raise the point "But all these problems would
	just go away if we used {PASCAL|ADA|CHLL|PL/1...}".  This is
	all to the good as it practically guarantees there will be
	sections in the final document like:

		"Indentation Standards for 'COMMON' Statements"

	which will help in the review process (more on that later).

  3)	Regardless of how long the definition of the standard takes, it
	is imperative that every month the manager in charge of the project
	produce a monthly report showing the projected milestone dates and
	the actual milestone dates.  This report is incorporated in turn
	into the monthly report of the managers in charge of projects
	actually using C, to show how their project delivery schedule will
	slip if the formatting standard isn't delivered when promised.

  4)	Another important activity is the preparation of slides, foils,
	charts, etc., for use at various TTI management meetings.  This
	activity will probably account for most of the actual
	expenditures.  After all, anyone can scribble some words on
	paper but color artwork is EXPENSIVE.  The purpose of these
	various talks and presentations is to show how "the
	industry-wide trend is towards common definition of programming
	language source code bulk entry standards."  This is also an
	excellent opportunity to discuss possible uses of
	state-of-the-art graphic input technology.  Above all, leave
	everyone with the impression that TTI is at least even with
	the Bell System in this area.

  5)	By this time, the original committee will have hired additional
	personnel, mostly secretarial.  Somewhere between 8 months and
	a year will have passed.  The volume of work in preparing foils
	for presentations will have almost certainly have outgrown
	whatever computer system you started working on.  Now is the
	time to start pushing for your own system.  The choice will
	probably come down to VAX or IBM.  The process of making this
	decision will take another 4 months.

  6)	After sufficient secretarial personnel have been hired, the idea
	will occur to someone to hire some programmers.  By this time a
	hiring freeze will be in effect, so the monthly reports will all
	cite the hiring freeze as the reason publication of the standard
	will be delayed.  Similarly, the units awaiting the standard to
	write C code will be delayed.  There will be talk about abandoning
	the use of C and switching to PASCAL.

  7)	By this time, the original request for a VAX-11/780 will have
	been denied because of a budget crunch related to the hiring
	freeze.  There is also some suspicion that supporters of IBM
	worked behind the scenes to get it killed.  Productivity is
	really suffering now; the production rate of foils and slides
	is way down and the travel budget to go to the meetings and
	present them has also been cut.  Some of the members of the
	committee will have declared the impossibility of getting any
	work done with totally inadequate resources and have stopped
	attending meetings.  The production of memos should continue at
	the normal rate however.

  8)	The hiring freeze is still in effect but it is now summer and
	you can manage to hire a couple of students as summer interns.
	They will probably have no experience with C, but have used
	some PASCAL, and besides they'll do anything for the money.

  9)	The idea will certainly occur to someone that a program to format
	C programs would be a nifty idea, as well as "sellable".
	Debate immediately insues as to what language to write it in.
	Here is where the IBM stalwarts get even for the DEC supporters
	having slipped the recommendation for a VAX past them.  It is
	decreed that the C beautifier program will run on an IBM 4341
	under VM/CMS/SPF and will be written in PL1.

 10)	The original project using C, a microprocessor-based field
	communications system for the military, is now late and the
	contractor responsible decides to give up on C and code in
	assembly.  This decision is quick to implement because the
	military agency reponsible for overseeing the contract approved
	this particular assembler for use by this particular company
	for the last project.  As stipulated in the contract, all
	development is done on a machine donated to the company for
	that purpose from military surplus stores.  It is a ruggedized
	NOVA and doesn't run VM/CMS/SPF or support PL1.

 11)	The summer student interns, after reading some C manuals
	will have written the bulk of the formatting standard and a
	prototype of the formatting program in about a week of

 12)	Now some additional budget resources have become available and
	production of high-quality presentation materials resumes its
	former level.  The standard is carefully edited to remove any
	references or phrases that might offend somebody.  For example,
	the description of C as a "Structured Programming Language" will
	have been stricken from the report because of objections of
	PASCAL and ALGOL adherents who are real sticklers for the use
	of the term "structured".

 13)	The proposed standard is now submitted for review.  Now the
	wisdom of including sections on the proper indenting of
	COMMON statements is manifested.  The reviewers will have no
	more knowledge of C than did most of the committee members
	at the outset of the whole affair.  Giving them something to
	which they can relate greatly eases the review process.  You
	must have been very careful, however, to cite references to
	publications that have discussed this issue.

 14)	During the review process, someone who really does know C will
	have gotten ahold of a copy of the standard and will produce
	a memo showing that the standard is largely inapplicable to
	the C language in its current definition (the committee used
	documents for a version of the language several versions old),
	and the C doesn't now have and never has had a COMMON statement,
	and that the proposed standard is at variance with just about
	all the C code produced by long-time C users.  He will be told

	  a)	the version skew isn't important because it
		describes the version of C that TTI is currently not
		using anyway.  This is also the reason TTI cannot start
		not using a newer version because it would conflict
		with the proposed formatting standard.

	  b)	the lack of a COMMON statement cannot be mentioned
		because one of the most important reviewers only
		approved the standard because it adopted his view of
		the proper indentation of COMMON statements.  If he
		finds out there isn't one he will insist that the
		language be modified to include it.

	  c)	the formatting practices of long-time C users have
		been found by the committee to be "poor practice".  And
		besides, they couldn't be produced by the formatting

 15)	In due course the proposed standard will be approved, with some
	modifications and incorporated into the "TTI Programming
	Procedures Manual".  All programmers hired by TTI will be told
	they must conform to the standards defined here.  The manual
	itself, made up of 8 volumes and totalling 3478 pages collected
	over a period of 18 years, is so expensive to print that the
	only copies of it are kept in designated TTI reference
	libraries.  It is therefore very difficult for TTI programmers
	to get a copy.  This is just as well because TTI in general
	underpays programmers and the tenure of a programmer at TTI is
	well below the industry average, so reading the entire procedures
	manual would take up most of his employment span with the company.

 16)	The fact that no possible use of the standard will expose its
	flaws has made the whole project a huge success.  Everyone is
	working overtime to take as much credit as possible (except the
	summer interns; they are back in school trying to take as few
	credits as possible).  Even the ones who stopped attending the
	committee meetings will be producing memos and foils showing
	how their single-minded dedication to the task was what really
	got it done.  There will probably be promotions for everyone.
	At least one more round of presentations will take place to show
	what kind of disaster would have occurred if TTI hadn't moved
	"significantly ahead of the rest of the industry" to define this

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