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Re: [ddlm-group] THREAD 3: The alphabet of non-delimited strings.

Regarding whitespace:

1. Nick detects a contradiction with Simon on the one hand saying that
CIF files aren't directly read by humans much at all, and me insisting
on them remaining readable.  I agree that there is not much point
trying to read and/or edit a 500K mmCIF file directly.  But let us not
forget the small molecule people.  For example, a CIF delivered by the
Powder Data Base can be only 10 lines long, and eminently
readable/cut-and-pastable in any text editor.  In addition, at least
one and probably more of my instrument scientist colleagues routinely
look over raw CIF files in the course of preparing publications and
checking other people's work.  I believe the differing perspectives
here are more to do with the different areas in which Simon and I
encounter CIF files.

2. If all we are concerned about is simplifying the formal syntax,
then that has been done already when we agreed on removing delimiters
from within delimited strings.  The present discussion is exactly
equivalent to deciding on using either "<whitespace>?" or
"<whitespace>+" in the grammar description.  After a review of the
formal 1.1 spec, I see no other opportunities for simplification
arising from making whitespace optional.  So I ask once again, what
other benefits are claimed for making whitespace optional, beyond
changing a plus sign to a question mark in the specification?

On 10/13/09, Nick Spadaccini <nick@csse.uwa.edu.au> wrote:
> There is a difference between insisting in a formal grammar that a value
> token is treated differently at one level than it is at another level, as
> opposed to requiring CIF writers to pad whitespace between value tokens at
> one level, but not at another level.
> My reading of the previous mail was that the balance of opinion was to
> formally terminate with the single token (irrespective of whitespace) and
> then requiring/asking/pleading/whatever-verb writers to pad token, which
> they and we all do anyway. I repeat again the formal specification of the
> language needs to be strict and consistent (Brian's maximally disruptive),
> and the parsers can be more loosely (deprecatingly?) implemented.
> However I detect a certain level of inconsistency in arguments here. What
> does "human readability" have to do with it? We just had a discussion on
> UTF-8 where it was argued in the near future no-one is going to be
> vim-img/emacs-ing/grep-ping these files and it will all be driven by
> applications. What happened to human readability then?
> On 13/10/09 8:36 PM, "James Hester" <jamesrhester@gmail.com> wrote:
>> I, for one, do not agree with dropping the requirement for whitespace
>> between tokens outside compound structures.  Is the only justification
>> avoiding a second production rule in the formal grammar?  I would like
>> to think we are getting more than this in return for sacrificing human
>> readability: see previous email somewhere long ago in this thread.
> cheers
> Nick
> --------------------------------
> Associate Professor N. Spadaccini, PhD
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