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Re: proposal to make null string handling more emacs-y

From: Miles Bader
Subject: Re: proposal to make null string handling more emacs-y
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2012 09:29:32 +0900

Steve Yegge <address@hidden> writes:
>> Maybe.  But I think such changes must be justified on a case-by-case
>> basis, with convincing use-cases ("in this very common situation, a nil
>> naturally turns up where a string was expected").
> For some of them this might be justified.  For others, I see no point in
> failing to deal with nil values.

Signalling an error _is_ "dealing with nil values" (and very often the
correct way).

Anyway, I think the onus is on you to show that relaxing
error-checking is justified.

> There is nothing to be gained

Clearly there is:  less buggy code.

> and the downside is that some user is sitting there unable to start
> Emacs because two required packages -- packages that may be used only
> on demand or not at all -- are arguing over some runtime value.
> That's a big downside.

WTF do you keep going on about Emacs startup?

If Emacs is dealing poorly with errors during startup -- of which
nil-when-a-string-was-expected is just one not particularly noteworthy
example -- then Emacs' handling of errors during startup needs to be
made robust.

Just papering over the problem by ignoring bugs simply means Emacs
will be more buggy.  That hurts users.

>> Type-checking catches a lot of bugs, even in "loose" languages like
>> lisp and end-user-targeted languages like elisp -- and I think the
>> trend is generally towards _stricter_ checking and less fuzziness,
>> even in scripting languages.
> It's a big stretch to call the Emacs equivalent of a Java
> NullPointerException "type checking".  A very big stretch.

Use whatever terminology you like.  It doesn't change the issues.


Any man who is a triangle, has thee right, when in Cartesian Space,
to have angles, which when summed, come to know more, nor no less,
than nine score degrees, should he so wish.  [TEMPLE OV THEE LEMUR]

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