[Oberon] erroneous hiding procedures in programmer's text editor v2.1

Chris Burrows chris at cfbsoftware.com
Tue Dec 24 02:47:08 CET 2013

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Hable [mailto:informujo at aon.at]
> Sent: Tuesday, 24 December 2013 7:32 AM
> To: oberon at lists.inf.ethz.ch
> Subject: Re: [Oberon] erroneous hiding procedures in programmer's text
> v2.1
> I just wanted to emphasize that ignoring syntax errors is not a feature,
> a bug. Strict syntax checks help the programmer to recognize errors early
> write source code which is compatible with other compilers.

I read Felix's message differently. The key phrase was: 'provided that the
EBNF is adapted accordingly'. Consequently if the syntax definition of the
language was changed so that semicolons are optional or eliminated
altogether then it would no longer be a syntax error if they were missing.

It is an interesting observation. I recall when I was wet behind the ears
(back in the 1970's) as a newcomer to Pascal. The compiler kept on telling
me 'semicolon required' - my irritated response was "Well, if you are
expecting one, why don't you put it in for me?" Fortunately, unlike the poor
students at the University where I was working, I didn't have to wait
another 24 hours before submitting it for compilation again. On the other
hand I guess they learnt from their mistakes much quicker than I did :-)

Luckily it wasn't sufficient irritation to prevent me from persevering.
However, it wasn't until quite some time later that the nuisance-factor went
away. It happened when I began to understand that if I played along with the
rules the compiler would give me better help when I did something stupid. 

Having thought about it a bit more, the less I like the idea of allowing
semicolons to be omitted. I would not be enthusiastic about using a system
that allowed this sort of code:

  a := 1 b := a + 1 c := a - b + 2

Maybe that's just me - I find it difficult to resist punctuating my SMS
texts ;-)


CFB Software

More information about the Oberon mailing list