What is "Open Language"?

Bernard Devlin bdrunrev at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 05:44:50 EST 2015

I believe that the Hypertalk 2.2 Reference book (Jeanne de Voto et. al) has
a BNF diagram of the language at the end.  I could be mistaken, as my copy
of the book has been in storage for a number of years.  But if I remember
correctly, then it seems at least at that stage the language was not too


On Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 6:35 PM, Mark Waddingham <mark at livecode.com> wrote:

> On 2015-10-27 18:23, Richard Gaskin wrote:
>> One thing most of us have in common here is that we need to ship
>> applications.  Very few of us (zero?) are responsible for drafting
>> BNFs.
> Indeed - but then perhaps that's the difference between people using a
> programming language and those responsible for maintaining and evolving it.
> In OOP we could make snapshots a class, so the values specifying them
>> could be expressed as name-value pairs through instance variables -
>> but who wants to use a language where you need to instantiate a math
>> class just to add two numbers? :)  OOP is fine where OOP is fine, but
>> OOP isn't xTalk.
> Well, I think you misrepresent how OOP languages work there - as they
> don't tend to require you to instantiate a 'math' class just to add two
> numbers. (Although some do take 'purity' to an almost unusable extent).
> In any case, OOP isn't really a language, it is just a set of patterns and
> ideas which are one good way to structure languages and think about
> software. (And OOP principals are definitely there in xTalks they are just
> not generally visible day-to-day).
> In LC, we see increasing use of arrays for name-value pairs (e.g.
>> clipboardData, etc.), and if it were important for someone to simplify
>> some aspects of making snapshots they could easily craft a handler
>> that takes an array to do that in just a couple minutes.
> Indeed - name-value pairs are used for 'the clipboardData' and other
> devices... Although I'd might suggest only because there is a lack of
> ability to be able to code the syntax that might be more appropriate:
> e.g. set the styledText of the clipboard to ...
> So maybe I'm too easy to please, but I think the current syntax for
>> snapshots is OK.
> It works - but a lot of people get tripped up by it all the time (costing
> individuals time figuring out why things don't work, others on the lists
> when they respond to questions on the lists about why their command doesn't
> work how they expect, and bug reports to us when they think there's an
> issue). Now, whilst perhaps a better dictionary entry might help a bit...
> This situation does suggest to me the syntax could be better and more
> accessible.
> Back in the day Brian Molyneaux of Heizer Software noted the same
>> thing about xTalks.  Just too loosey-goosey for that sort of thing.
> Well I'm sorry to say that he was wrong as far as I'm concerned.
> Indeed, thinking that xTalks have no place for formality might be perhaps
> at least (a small) part of the reason why most of them have disappeared?
> Fortunately, my job is to make software, not BNFs, and LiveCode lets me do
>> that.
> My job is to make software too - software that allows others to make
> software.
> Aspects like rigorously definable semantics and rigorous specification of
> syntax are things that help me do that. Just like having the features you
> need working in the way you need them to help you to do that.
> If life were simple, it probably wouldn't be as much fun :)
> Warmest Regards,
> Mark.
> --
> Mark Waddingham ~ mark at livecode.com ~ http://www.livecode.com/
> LiveCode: Everyone can create apps
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