From: Michael Maxwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jan 31 2007 - 07:04:02 CST
> I don't think that languages must be changed to adapt to this
> notation, or even to adapt to the visual mathematical
> rendering; this could be used instead within programming
> language editors, as a much better improvement than just
> syntax coloring and smart indentation.
> If the program editor understands the syntax of the language,
> and can parse it live, while editing the program, then it
> could as well present it to the programmer in a more
> user-friendly format, including when editing comments,
> indenting it in a much smarter way (with automated linewraps).
> Then when saving the program source, the classical plain-text
> syntax and lexical entities would still be used.
Along these lines, I used to be on the development team for a tool called LinguaLinks, produced by SIL (www.sil.org). This was an object-oriented database for field linguists. We took exactly this idea of building a WYSINWYG editor. Phonological rules, for example, looked in the editor much like the rules in Chomsky and Halle's Sound Pattern of English (not that I expect anyone here to remember that...), including vertically-aligned matrices, Greek letters for "alpha" variables, etc. These were converted to straight ASCII strings (the excuse for why why we weren't using Unicode is that this was 1995) and sent to the "compiler" in that form. There are some screen shots of the rule editor at http://www.sil.org/computing/hermitcrab/pictures.html (and now that I look at them, I realize the don't line up vertically as nicely as I remember :-().
The name Hermit Crab, which I chose for my part of this project, was chosen to convey the idea of a user-friendly front end (the shell) to an ugly back end (the crab, in this case the database and a morphological parser).
I'd be surprised if there aren't other programmer editors that do this same kind of structural presentation, maybe math editors.
CASL/ U Md
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