Subject: Re: ACL 6.0 Trial Edition ships with non ANSI reader behavior.
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 06 Nov 2000 06:29:02 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

| SGML is consciously case _in_sensitive, with some historical
| preference for pushing things into upper case, from which HTML
| inherits its case insensitivity.

  Not so.  SGML is by default case insensitive in element names and
  case sensitive in entity names.  This may be changed in the SGML
  declaration at will, incidentally.

  Did you know that in a mailbox specification on the Internet, the
  domain part is case insensitive, while the user part is case
  sensitive.  E.g, <> and <erik@NAGGUM.NET> name the
  same mailbox, but <erik@NAGGUM.NET> and <ERIK@NAGGUM.NET> name
  different mailboxes, unless the host system decides to coalesce
  them, but that is a local decision.  The same applies to message-IDs
  which use the mailbox syntax.
| I think the use of the term "Modern" in this context is _outrageous_
| in that it doesn't actually say anything meaningful.

  On the contrary, and your next paragraph has it just right.

| Franz may try to term their system as "Modern" and thus, somehow, in
| its "modernity," superior to all of those other systems that "Aren't
| Modern."

  Yes, that's it!  It's a political name.  On the other hand, we could
  use ANSI Common Lisp the same way.  Modern Lisp, whatever it is, it
  is not ANSI.  Depending on how much they are willing to incorporate
  the full standard and stop breaking it randomly, I think it would be
  better to return to the old Franz Lisp if they are determined to set
  out on their own course rather than work within the Lisp community
  to make important decisions in the open and with a defined level of
  commitment beyond some whim from some VP or other about what the
  next violation of the standard shall be.

  Now, mind you, I think lower-case symbol names in Common Lisp would
  do the language a world of wonder, but we have come to the point in
  the Common Lisp world where it does not really matter that _often_
  which case the slightly "internal" symbol names are.  However, when
  it matters, upper-case names look _really_ archaic.  When computers
  produce output to me in all upper-case, I find that about as rude
  and/or backward as people who send e-mail or sms messages in all
  upper-case.  I half expect to receive postcards from such people on
  80-column punch cards or to receive software from them on paper-tape
  rolls, huge disk packs, or 9-inch magtape.  I don't want Common Lisp
  to fall into that category.  At least there will be less explaining
  to do to people who read Lisp code and who can now trust that the
  symbol name actually consists of the letters they see.  John calls
  this "wysiwyg", but that's just too cute.

| That just seems _wrong_; it ignores the critical issue of "what's in
| the name?"

  It's right there.  "We are more modern than you are", basically.

  I'm really not sure what to call such a beast.  I'm not fond of
  "Modern", and I proposed to call it "More Common Lisp" as a sort of
  pun on the C -> C++ naming path as well as suggesting that it is
  more common with lower-case than uppercase, it has more in common
  with other languages if it does the same, etc.  It didn't catch on.

| > I think behavior like this needlessly partitions a tiny community
| > and causes the needless drawing of battle lines that could as
| > easily have been avoided in favor of focusing the community on
| > real problems.
| That sure sounds right...

  I think this came about because of the way it was mishandled through
  a bad choice of migration criteria and a very bad choice of what to
  nuke in the standard in the process, not what was attempted gained
  in the process, but that may be just myopia on my part.  I don't
  think there would have been case wars if people's code would work in
  both systems initially, namely from a readtable-case of :upcase to
  one of :downcase and internally lower-case names, progressing to an
  eventual :perserve if this really turns out to be useful.

  Does anyone remember where I parked Air Force One?
                                   -- George W. Bush