At 08:55 AM 3/14/2002 -0600, Bryn Wolfe wrote:

>Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>I believe we can think outside the teletype restrictions of 30 years 
>>>ago. If not, maybe it's time to retire ;-)
>>Ahem. The issue is clarity, and what could easily be taken as a personal 
>>insult will not help to resolve it.
>Relax! I was referring to the "old school of thought" reference I made 
>earlier. If your sensitive about your age, don't advertise it every time 
>you refer to your decades of experience.

Mr. Wolfe does not seem to be aware of the implications of what he writes. 
That's not terribly unusual. Printed circuit designers are not expected to 
be masters of interpersonal communication. Some are, most are not. But we 
are expected to be able to function effectively in a changing world. A 
suggestion that a person has become, allegedly, rigid in thinking, unable 
to adapt to new conditions and should therefore retire is very definitely a 
personal insult; I think that would be confirmed as a majority opinion if 
we were to have an extended discussion on the matter, which I am not 
inviting and which I would not join, having already said everything I'm 
likely to consider relevant.

Now, to the point:

>Ah, I see what you mean about DOS compatibility. Personally, I hate 
>underscores. It makes the name longer without any added information. I use 
>case for readability only. I would not name two components that differed 
>in case only. So in that respect, maybe we agree.

Almost. As to underscores wasting character count, that has become, mostly, 
unnecessary. Yes, case can shorten names by presenting us with a break in 
the name equivalent to a space; in fact, I think this was the origin of 
case, *all* words being capitalized (I mean the origin of the practice, not 
of its name, which is much more modern, coming from the literal cases of 

Our difference here is whether or not the harm from allowing upper and 
lower case forms of letters is greater or lesser than the harm from 
lengthening file names by using underscore. Obviously there is a difference 
of opinion on this in the industry, but I'm not sure that the matter has 
been carefully considered by more than some programmer working in relative 
isolation. It may have been: are there standards?

>In summary, for component names we want OS file naming conventions, sans 
>spaces (spaces automatically replaced by underscores), but allow upper and 
>lower case for naming/presentation, but don't allow name duplication where 
>case is the only difference. Does that sound right?

Almost, but not quite. One problem with allowing case difference is that it 
causes different names, as far as ASCII code is concerned, to have 
identical meaning. If case difference is allowed in names, in general, it 
will cause a different sort order than if it is not allowed. Yes, one can 
overcome this with more complex sort and parsing routines, but then the 
question arises as to what convention to use. Alphabetical order is pretty 
clear, when case is not allowed. Windows does what Mr. Wolfe wants. It's 
fine for descriptive filenames for text files, and the convention would be 
to ignore case in function but preserve it in the name itself. An option is 
then given the user as to whether or not to consider case in a search, for 

But in an engineering environment, I think the confusion it introduces is 
not worth the gain, which is only a reduction in name length. No, I do not 
want a return to the 8.3 filename limit. It was a bad idea from the 
beginning, or, let's say, it was almost immediately more of a problem than 
it was a solution.

Definitely I want case to be ignored by default, and I don't want the part 
chosen to depend on what case is used, and I don't want spaces to be legal. 
We agree on that. I don't find the increase in name length from a few 
underscores or hyphens to be a problem, except where programmers have made 
dialogs fixed in width and too short.

We will be talking to our computers in a few years, do we want to have to 
say "space" or depend on some AI routine to insert the spaces it thinks we 
want? Speech has neither spaces nor case. It does have, so to speak, 
italics. But I don't want a filename to depend on whether or not the speak 
is angry, for example.

Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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