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Re: ?-suffix for booleans... good-idea? or bad-idea?

From: Panicz Maciej Godek
Subject: Re: ?-suffix for booleans... good-idea? or bad-idea?
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:53:44 +0200

Hi :)

2017-04-24 19:01 GMT+02:00 Christopher Allan Webber <address@hidden>

> Hello everyone!  Here's a little bikeshed for us to paint.
> I've noticed that it's common in Guile modules to use "foo?" for
> variable names involving booleans.  It's tempting, because this looks
> an awful lot like you're asking a question... and it's also common
> for this even to be keyword arguments to procedures, etc.
> But is it a good idea?  I thought "foo?" was supposed to be for
> predicates, as a nicer version of the "foo-p" predicate convention in
> other non-scheme lisps.  I can't imagine other lisps doing "foo-p" for
> just variables with boolean values.
> On the other hand, once you start adding ? to the end of boolean'y
> things, it *does* become tempting to put them at the end of boolean
> variables and arguments.  It looks pretty nice.
> What do people think?  I'm struggling with deciding what's the right
> thing for my own code, but leaning towards "we shouldn't use the ?
> suffix for just boolean values".

I think that there's no need to be super-consistent here.
Actually, I can't think of any natural and elegant use of a boolean variable
from the top of my head, but my gutt feeling is that it usually can be
(however, if you have some particular examples on your mind, I think
it could be instructive to see them here).

Also, there seems to be many aspects of this. When we're using
a name inside a let or let* form, it shouldn't be very harmful to use
question mark
in the name of an intermediate variable. The thing with function parameters
and global names are I believe more important, because they are a part of
some interface.

As for parameter names, I'm not sure whether it is a good idea to use
question marks in the names that ought to refer to predicates. I'm not sure
if it is better for a prototype of "filter" to be

(filter condition? list)


(filter condition list)

Actually, I find it more natural to interpret the predicate as a boolean
to a function, rather than a predicate. That said, I think it is a bad
to make boolean flags arguments to functions, because it is impossible
to say how (f #false #true #false) differs from (f  #true #true #true) nor
what the roles of these arguments are (which is why I think the interface
of "format" sucks)

Hinldley-Milner languages avoid this problem, because a type signature
tells more than just a name (and is more reliable), and they handle tagged
unions easily, and it is much better to define a union and use one of its
values, than a boolean value (and using Lisp symbols for this purpose,
although more readable, is error prone and likely less efficient)

Best regards,

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