Re: Error-handling if your compiler had an attitude.

Gene Wirchenko <>
Tue, 30 Dec 2014 13:13:08 -0800

          From comp.compilers

Related articles
Error-handling if your compiler had an attitude. (2014-12-29)
Re: Error-handling if your compiler had an attitude. (glen herrmannsfeldt) (2014-12-30)
Re: Error-handling if your compiler had an attitude. (Walter Banks) (2014-12-30)
Re: Error-handling if your compiler had an attitude. (Gene Wirchenko) (2014-12-30)
Re: Error-handling if your compiler had an attitude. (Christophe de Dinechin) (2015-01-12)
| List of all articles for this month |

From: Gene Wirchenko <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2014 13:13:08 -0800
Organization: A noiseless patient Spider
References: 14-12-010
Keywords: errors, history
Posted-Date: 31 Dec 2014 11:47:59 EST

On Mon, 29 Dec 2014 13:51:06 -0800 (PST),

>What if your compiler had an attitude problem? I was thinking of funny things
>it could do for error-handling (maybe with a -X switch for GenX/Millennial
>verbose output):

          HA! I did something like this for an assignment in COBOL for
implementing an AirMiles-type program. I had two versions of
messages, one in CorpSpeak and one in smart-alecky language. For
example, the trademark messages were something like:

AirKloms is a trademark of BobCorp International, and we are a
licenced user of the mark.

AirKloms belongs to BobCorp. We are in with the man. You aren't. Go
ahead, punk. Make our lawyers rich.

Warning messages ended with either

- Continuing


- I'll try to cope.

          It was great fun!

          The messages need not be GenX/Millennial to snark. Here are my

>* It addresses you like "Dude! You boffed the syntax again." or the like.

          "Were you a disappointment to your English teacher, too?"

>* It tells you to get glasses if you keep missing semicolons [Note 1].

          "Since you do not seem to like semicolons, you might try
JavaScript where they are optional."

>* If you use older or archaic style (particularly, deprecated stuff), it makes
>fun of you and asks if you need help with your walker. [Note 2].

          "It has been a while since I last compiled that type of
statement. Let me check; it might be a valuable antique."

>* When variables are spelled inconsistently, it recommends Sesame Street to
>you for remedial assistance.

          "Either you have missing declarations or no dictionary."

>* When you forget to include declarations for built-in stuff, it pretends it's
>never heard of the function, like "what's a 'printf' and why is the 'f'

          "Some compilers assume that you are so stupid that they need to
assume stuff for you. I prefer to think that you know better, but I
am beginning to think that the other compilers may be right."

>* Other undeclared externals get replies like "What? Am I supposed to figure
>out what my_func is by myself?"

          "Mother says that I should not talk to strangers. Please
introduce us."

>* When there are too many errors, it may reply with "you're in way over your
>head" or "are you sure you're using the right language?"

          "Computers are sensitive pieces of equipment. Please have your
cat walk somewhere else."

          Mind you, C++ can do it all by itself with one error. I once
forgot the parens around two calls in one statement and got over 100
error messages. The compiler stopped, because it hit the maximum.

>* It may also silently rack up error counts and afterwards ask, "There are
>2015 errors. Would you like to see them all? Huh? Huh?"

          "There were rather a lot of errors in that code. Which order
would you prefer that I present the error messages in, and would you
like the output bound or loose?"

>* If you keep using keywords as your own variable names or other names, it
>goes like "Stop that!" and threatens to delete or uninstall itself, maybe with
>a menacing statement "I know where my home directory is." or "I hope you kept
>backups of your installation files."

          "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

>[I recall a few compilers a long time ago, like the 1970s, that tried
>to be cute. It was amusing for about 5 minutes, then annoying.

          Yes, it would be quite annoying, but not quite as bad as UNIX man
pages. Too many that I saw "documented" error messages with the note
that they were self-explanatory.

>Also see



Gene Wirchenko

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