Re: Languages that are hard to parse

henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
21 May 2005 00:01:25 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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Re: Languages that are hard to parse Martin.Ward@durham.ac.uk (Martin Ward) (2005-05-24)
[4 later articles]
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From: henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 21 May 2005 00:01:25 -0400
Organization: SP Systems, Toronto, Canada
References: 05-05-119 05-05-155 05-05-166 05-05-182
Keywords: parse, Cobol

Our moderator writes:
>[...The reason that PL/I doesn't have
>reserved words is that COBOL has a huge list, so that programmers either
>need to keep a chart of them on the office wall to consult every time they
>invent a new name, or be sure every name includes a hyphen or digit to
>be sure it doesn't collide with one. -John]


Actually, it's worse than that. The usual approach is to keep a chart on
the wall of the *keywords* that have hyphens in them -- there are some --
and always put at least one hyphen in your names. The hyphenated-keywords
chart is a lot more manageable than the full keywords chart.


(In my last undergrad year, by accident I had a rather light schedule in
one term, so I threw in the COBOL class. The language was as disgusting
as I expected, but some of the coverage of practical aspects of business
data processing was quite educational. For example, on the first
assignment, the prof told us that we would be graded on how our code
performed on *his* test data, warned us that it was full of errors and
inconsistencies, and said that we would be penalized heavily for every
data problem that our code failed to detect and report. I can think of
some compiler writers who should have taken that course...)
--
"Think outside the box -- the box isn't our friend." | Henry Spencer
                                                                -- George Herbert | henry@spsystems.net


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