C Indentation Survey Results (long...)

Jim Shankland jas at rtech.ARPA
Thu May 2 03:21:24 AEST 1985

Henry Spencer has concisely and eloquently summed up the case against

> 	A paragrapher cannot judge the programmer's intent, and hence cannot
> 	do as good a job of displaying it as the programmer can.
> 	Paragraphers should be used to deal with emergencies, not as a
> 	substitute for doing it right the first time.

But I don't buy it.  In most cases, the program's syntax DOES (or should)
accurately reflect the programmer's intent.  In cases when it doesn't,
variant formatting may hinder, rather than help, comprehension:  when
a program's syntactic structure is clearly and consistently reflected
in a display style selected by the reader of the code, the attention
of the reader can focus on the MEANING of the code:  the "programmer's

Given the choice between seeing a piece of code displayed in a syntactically
consistent way selected by me, and seeing the code displayed in a
syntactically variant way selected by the original programmer, with
the variants intended to give me clues about the programmer's intent,
I will gladly select the former option.

Let me restate my case by altering Henry's statement above to make
a (specious) argument against the use of high-level languages:

	A compiler cannot judge the programmer's intent, and
	hence cannot do as good a job of generating code as the
	programmer can.  High-level languages should be used
	only for emergencies, and are no substitute for the
	programmer's hand-coding the algorithm in the first place.

Jim Shankland
Relational Technnology, Inc.

The opinions expressed above may not be shared by my dog.

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