groups and background

Dar Scott dsc at swcp.com
Sat Dec 28 12:42:00 EST 2002


On Friday, December 27, 2002, at 03:04 PM, Rob Cozens wrote:

>>> I could test this for you, Dar; but it was your question...and 
>>> self-discovery is much more meaningful, don't you think?
>
> Aw shucks, Dar...It worked for Tom Sawyer.  Guess you'll probably pass 
> up the wonderful opportunity for fence painting I was about to offer 
> you too.   :{~)

I apologize.  I didn't mean to ignore your suggestion.  I was aware of 
the behavior of "there is a group" and "there is a background".  I went 
on to show that "the number of" had the same problems and both were not 
consistent with "the groups of" and "the backgrounds of".


But are people confused by this?

I would guess that some people are under the impression that "there is a 
background" means that there is a group with background behavior set 
somewhere in the stack by that name.  That would not be the case.

I would guess that some people are under the impression that "there is a 
background" means that there is a group somewhere in the stack by that 
name.  But, it doesn't work that way on my system.

I would guess that some might think that if 'there is a group "alpha"' 
is true, then 'there is a background "alpha"' is true.  I see 
counterexamples.

I would guess that some might expect "the number of lines in the 
backgrounds" to be the same as "the number of backgrounds".  This is not 
the case.

I would guess that some might think that 'there is a background "alpha"' 
is the same as '"alpha" is among the lines of the backgrounds'.  I would 
guess otherwise.


This is in addition to confusion areas.  We have these three (at least):

1) The use of "background" in background behavior vs. "background" in 
some subset of groups associated with a stack.

2) The inconsistent use of "background" in the subsets of groups 
associated with a stack.  (As described above)

3) The inconsistent path for groups that do not have background behavior 
set.


I don't think we can ignore the question of whether Dar is confused; we 
have seen evidence that this is often the case and I appreciate the help 
from experienced script writers.  However, I first mentioned the 
confusion of the word "background" in the context of translating the 
docs.  This was also during a time when people were bringing up the need 
for texts and examples for classes.

When programming language features are clean, simple and rich, the job 
of the teacher or documentation writer becomes much easier.  However, 
when portions are not that way, then the situation becomes a challenge, 
not only to those, but also to programmers using the language.  
Documentation writing becomes a sort of exercise in apologetics; a good 
model must be built.  Words used multiple ways that are not clearly 
delimited by context need to be qualified.  This gets hard if they are 
not in the language.  (Consider "the backgrounds".)

Dar Scott




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