[Oberon] Help in using an Oberon systems.

Les May zen53397 at zen.co.uk
Mon Dec 17 20:32:09 CET 2012

As is apparent from the documentation Safe-C is not a legacy system any 
more than Oberon is a legacy system of Modula 2 or Pascal. C programs 
will not compile with it just as an Oberon program will not compile with 
a Pascal compiler. A C programmer would notice significant similarities 
just as a Pascal programmer would if he/she looked at an Oberon program, 
but that is all.

Wirth did not design Oberon from 'first principles'. He had 25 years of 
experience to fall back on including designing Pascal, Modula and Modula 
2, plus exposure to the Cedar/Mesa system and to Algol68. He felt he 
knew what was desirable in a language and what was problematic. The 
designer of Safe-C has tried to do just the same.

The virtue of simplicity is an opinion not an axiom. Wirth is frequently 
quoted as repeating a saying attributed to Albert Einstein, 'make things 
as simple as possible but not simpler'. But he struggled to put this 
into practice e.g. the number of loop constructs to be included, and the 
need or otherwise for cardinals and for different sizes of integer.

In making the construction of the compiler as simple as possible by 
using upper case keywords only he imposed an additional 'cognitive load' 
on users because text written in upper case is more difficult to 
comprehend (at least by me) and entering it is much more error prone due 
to constant toggling of the shift key/capitals key. His simplicity is my 
complexity. Interestingly Zonnon the successor to Oberon allows lower 
case keywords.

Les May

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