How about a change to the purpose of the Languages control?

Currently, I think of the control *selecting how to determine* which language to use. Example settings "whatever #lang says", "Beginning Student", etc.

The control could be changed to *present the determination* (by #lang or by some default), and only secondarily as a means to *change the determination* (which might mean automatically changing the #lang in the file). The list of override alternatives would be something like the languages that this DrRacket instance knows about. There would not be a "whatever #lang says" alternative, since that behavior is always the case.

For determining the language when no #lang is present (such as when opening a file without a #lang, or when creating a new file), the default could be a preference setting, with alternatives like "Guess", "beginning-student", "advanced-student", "racket", "racket/base"... and whatever other languages this DrRacket knows. Default alternative would be "Guess", which I suspect will work fine for most people.

The "Guess" alternative in this preference could be some heuristics like Emacs and the "file" command use (later on we could make these heuristics extensible by packages that implement languages), and default to the last #lang used. I suspect last-#lang-used would be fine, and any heuristics are a bonus. (The heuristics might determine language of the file as distinct from #lang languages, and for each file language, keep track of a last-#lang-used. So, a heuristic might recognize Scheme as the file's language, and then Guess would go and find what #lang the user last used for a Scheme file. Again, last-#lang-used, with no heuristics, is fine 95%+ of the time; heuristics are mostly for delighting the user with DrRacket's cleverness the other 5% of the time.)

Robby's suggestion of *always* requiring #lang is tempting, and I am close to that, except that it would be nice to support languages that don't syntactically permit #lang. For example, if we wanted to load up JavaScript, XML, HTML, or Java files in DrRacket.

Neil V.


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