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Apr 93 Letters
Volume Number:9
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:Dialogue Box

Dialogue Box

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

I Like humor, Too

I am writting in response to a comment in the "dialog box" of the January issue regarding the lighter side. - the writer said to drop it.

I think that you should keep it. Humor is a good thing.

Also, what are the odds of you maintaining your own BBS for developers? This would be highly useful to allow subscribers to call up and ask questions or download specific code fragments from various issues (the cd-rom would be cheaper if you wanted everything). I would enjoy being able to contact other developers and ask questions that are not being responded to on Developer Talk in AppleLink.

Thanks for the great magazine.

- Robert J. Sanford, Jr.

Future Soft Engineering

[Robert, we will not be running our own BBS for now. We are setting up areas on CompuServe, AOL and AppleLink. Those areas should all be up and running by the time you read this. If you have problems, e-mail us for more information. Our most current e-mail addresses are on page two of this issue. - Ed.]

C or Pascal

I know you've been wanting input from readers, and I've been meaning to write, but it took Dave Mark's September column to prompt me to do it.

I probably should have realized that, with a title like "C or Pascal, Which is the Best Language?", I shouldn't have read any further. But curiosity got the better of me. You see, I have wondered for many years just what causes fanatic C fans to be fanatic.

Mark gives us the same tired, religious, non-sense that every one of the fanatics uses. C offers notational flexibility. C is compact. C is powerful. Pascal is a Volvo?! C will really let you fly! Give me a break!

I defy Mark to show me THINK C code that performs some powerful action that THINK Pascal code cannot (and in a more user/programmer-friendly fashion, that's why we use Macs isn't it?). Where is the power in a language used for an annual contest to see who can write the most convoluted code (BYTE Magazine)?

The point behind programming is to produce correct software. The fastest, most powerful, flexible, compact code is useless if it's not correct. Computer Science has spent more than 3 decades moving further away from the computer by adding layers of abstraction which increase programmer accuracy and efficiency. That's why we don't program using ones and zeros, despite the fact that there is unlimited power there. That's why the U.S. Government and military, as well as the commercial aviation industry, have moved in the opposite direction, by standardizing on Ada (which is based on Pascal syntax).

If support is what you want, you should be using and programming MS-DOS. Does support or popularity make something the right tool for the job? Isn't the best language the right one for the job? Don't programmers deserve the same ease of use we provide for our users?

I want my compiler to spot my mistakes as soon as I make them, not after I spend three hours tracing through the code. THINK Pascal does that. And despite the latest improvements, the THINK Pascal environment is still superior to THINK C in terms of editing, debugging, and navigating through your source code.

All of this is irrelevant, though, because the best language is the one that gets the job done for you. And Dave, I really did enjoy the rest of your article, particularly the stuff on data representations and parameter passing in C and Pascal. And congratulations on your new addition to the family.

Getting off my soapbox, I'm glad to have MacTutor back and, apparently, growing again. While I agree that spending 1/4 the magazine on a LISP example is probably too much, my vote is not to reduce your coverage of FORTRAN, Lisp, BASIC, <insert your favorite way to teach your computer here>, what-have-you. I would hate to see such a great programming resource turn into some kind of clique for the gang with the most popular language.

- Michael Gibbs, Surpise, Arizona

[We have no intention of making MT a single language journal. As far as C vs. Pascal, the best language is the one that gets the job done for you. The industry is standardizing on C, but that doesn't mean that you have to. Anyone have any other comments for Michael? - Ed.]

 
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