[FORGED] Re: Chemical structures with plain TeX

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Sun Jul 7 03:02:46 CEST 2019

On 2019-07-07 at 10:20:05 +1200, Rolf Turner wrote:

 > I think that in the context of the current "discussion" the following
 > quote (origin unknown) is relevant:
 > > There is not now, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be,
 > > any programming language in which it is the least bit difficult to
 > > write bad code.

This is not the point.  Phil suggests a user interface in plain
English so that the code is comprehensible even without the need to
consult any manuals.

Phil says that some attempts were made in the past and mentioned
ALGOL-68 and VMS.  I'm not familiar with either of them, but I
remember that NOS/VE had commands like DISPLAY_CATALOG and EDIT_FILE.
I suppose that this is what Phil had in mind: a command consists of a
verb and a noun.

NOS/VE supported abbreviations consisting of the first three
characters of the verb and the first character of the noun:


At that time we appreciated this scheme very much.

But nowadays such a scheme cannot work anymore.  Debian provides more
than 50,000 software packages.  Many packages provide more than one
program.  The package we all know best, TeX Live, provides more than
400 programs.

And there are different programs which do the same thing in different
ways.  If you want to install more than one of them, they cannot have
the same name.

Unix allows arbitrary names for commands so that thousands of programs
are accessible from the command line.  Names of programs must be
unique, hence it's impossible to use the verb/noun scheme nowadays.
It only worked with programs supplied by Control Data itself, and
because a very few 3rd party programs were available at that time.

Anyway, we have to live with the the operating systems we have today
and I don't see any demand for action as far as Unix is concerned.


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de

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