Why isn't Rev more popular?

Mark Wieder mwieder at ahsoftware.net
Sat Dec 3 17:44:08 EST 2005


Friday, December 2, 2005, 9:46:20 PM, you wrote:

> With regard to my previous post, students think that if they can say
>   hide field "xxx"
> then they ought to be able to say
>   if field "xxx" is hidden ...
> or
>   if field "xxx" is invisible ...
> or
>   if field "xxx" is not visible...
> but having to create a construct like
>   if the visible of field "xxx" is false ...
> really baffles them.  In this way I think Transcript could indeed be
> more English-like.

...and that, of course, is the problem with Transcript being
"English-like"... you tend to think that it *should* respond to
English commands. In English

hide field "xxx"    and
if field "xxx" is hidden

are two completely separate language constructions. The first is an
imperative statment commanding the computer to do something to the
specified field. The second is a query of a property of a field. Is
the field hidden? Is it not visible?

In English this is not querying the state of existence of the field...
we're not asking "is field xxx a pig", we're interested in a
particular property of the field, in this case whether or not the
field is visible to us. This is a different use of the word "is". What
we're really asking in English is "is the state of the visibility of
this field true or false?". This is very similar to the Transcript
"put the visible of field xxx".

Unfortunately, English doesn't really discriminate between the two
meanings of the verb "to be" in the way that other languages do.
Saying "I am happy" or "I am befuddled" is probably not a statement of
self-identity as much as a description of a property of oneself.

In much the same way "hide field xxx" is a shorthand way of saying
"set the visible of field xxx to true". Maybe if you didn't teach your
students about the hide command and stuck to the low-level functions
they wouldn't get so confused. You'd lose some of the beauty and
flexibility of the language, but it would be less easy to think of it
as being English.

-Mark Wieder
 mwieder at ahsoftware.net

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