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Re: [ddlm-group] Vote on moving elide discussion to COMCIFS. .. .

Dear Simon,

   Thank you for your substantive response.  I grant that there
is no way to know how many crystallographers use any particular
programming language directly, but those who have to implement
the software need to make CIF2 and DDLm a reality are very
likely to be reasonably familiar with Python, and the Python
GUI, IDLE, provide a very convenient test environment to
see what some particular quoted string unwinds to.

   I thinks John W.'s point deserves particularly careful
consideration.  With what is going on right now in the U.S.
Congress those of us in the US at least are likely to be
very short of funds and resources that require funds for the
next few years.  Anything we do to leverage existing technologies
helps in surviving a very difficult period for doing any science
at all.  That applies both to CIF developers and to users.
We need to make things as easy and inexpensive as possible
consistent with getting done what we need to get done.

   That is why I think your F-type proposal is a reasonable
fall-back if it is otherwise impossible to get agreement
on using Python for now.  It is not terribly inconsistent
with Python and at least leverages a portion of the CIF1.1
software effort.  It well may end up as the final compromise,
but the current budget crunch on the US makes Ralf's proposal,
which, I believe will require less effort in software development,
more attractive to me.

   I, too, would prefer that we had opted for a lexical definition
for CIF2 that did not require any reformatting of strings.
Fortunately we now seem to have agreed to continue support
for CIF1.1 DDL1 and DDL2 data files, so the "maximally
disruptive" approach adopted for CIF2 is less problematic
than it might otherwise have been.  Having chosen to require
the reformatting of CIF1.1 strings for them to be acceptable
as CIF2, the question become one of how to deal with the
difficult cases.  Having some form of the triple quotes
allows those difficult cases to be handled easily, and using the
well-documented and software-supported python approach Ralf
suggested will, I believe, minimize the overall level of confusion
in this process.

   In any case, thank you very much for clarifying why you prefer
proposal F to P.


   Regards,
     Herbert

P.S.  If the current U.S. House budget resolution goes through,
we are not talking about delays in new grants, we are talking
about major recisions in current grants, major layoffs at
synchrotrons and labs, and an end to scientific careers for
many young people.  (The proposed cuts for the U.S. Department
of Energy Office of Science are about 20% from current spending
levels for the entire year, coming 6 months into the year.  That
means effective budget cuts of 30 - 40%). Let us hope that it
does not happen, but anything we can do to conserve resources
in infrastructure efforts would be the right thing to do.

Yes, I am being alarmist.  There are times when being alarmist
is the right thing to do.  I think that this is one of those
times.

At 10:54 PM +0000 2/21/11, SIMON WESTRIP wrote:
>Attempting to address Herbert's issues:
>
>"such informal
>descriptions are never as reliable as an actual implementation,
>in particular one that's been around for many years and is used
>by millions of people."  (Ralf)
>
>What proportion of those millions of people are regular CIF users?
>(By 'user' I'm talking about end-users rather than programmers.)
>
>   "meaningful adoption of DDLm/CIF2 will require embracing
>and leveraging existing technologies as much as possible." (John W.)
>
>True enough, but I'm not convinced that adoption of one programming 
>language's syntax for
>just one means of representing a CIF data value is going to make 
>much difference
>(a python programmer will still have to read values delimited by the 
>other tokens).
>
>"I find it [counter-intuitive] and unproductive to adopt something
>that looks very much like the python treble quoted
>string but which follows confusingly different rules." (HJB)
>
>As a CIF user familiar with CIF1, the F-type proposal is so close to the
>existing line-folding semantics that I doubt it will be any more 
>confusing than
>that protocol (which I suspect many users are unaware of).
>More confusing (counter-intuitive) is the fact that by using
>treble-quoted delimiters, the entire data value may have to be reformatted.
>
>Cheers
>
>Simon
>
>
>
>From: Herbert J. Bernstein <yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com>
>To: Group finalising DDLm and associated dictionaries <ddlm-group@iucr.org>
>Sent: Monday, 21 February, 2011 22:11:20
>Subject: Re: [ddlm-group] Vote on moving elide discussion to COMCIFS. .. .
>
>Dear John B.,
>
>   Thank you, that was very helpful.  To summarize those messages,
>a majority on COMCIFS made a proposal to make the treble-quoted
>strings agree with those of Python.  The reasons given were:
>
>"such informal
>descriptions are never as reliable as an actual implementation,
>in particular one that's been around for many years and is used
>by millions of people."  (Ralf)
>
>   "meaningful adoption of DDLm/CIF2 will require embracing
>and leveraging existing technologies as much as possible." (John W.)
>
>"I find it [counter-intuitive] and unproductive to adopt something
>that looks very much like the python treble quoted
>string but which follows confusingly different rules." (HJB)
>
>The responses you cite did not seem to address those issues.  Was
>there a discussion on those issues that I missed?
>
>Regards,
>     Herbert
>
>
>
>
>At 3:32 PM -0600 2/21/11, Bollinger, John C wrote:
>>Dear Herbert,
>>
>>On Monday, February 21, 2011 2:35 PM, you wrote:
>>>     Other than my own messages, could you point me to where there
>>>was a discussion of the actual proposal Ralf made, rather than
>>>of variations and interpretations, but of the actual wording
>>>change Ralf proposed for the CIF2 document?  I cannot seem
>>>to find that.  That wording seemed/seems pretty sensible to
>>>me.
>>
>>For reference, the message to the COMCIFS list in which Ralf
>>proposed his wording change is archived here:
>><http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/comcifs-l/msg00500.html>http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/comcifs-l/msg00500.html
>>
>>Some messages on the DDLm list, other than your own, in which Ralf's
>>proposal is directly discussed include these:
>>
>><http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00899.html>http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00899.html
>><http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00901.html>http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00901.html
>><http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00904.html>http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00904.html
>><http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00906.html>http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00906.html
>><http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00921.html>http://www.iucr.org/__data/iucr/lists/ddlm-group/msg00921.html
>>
>>Some of those also discuss alternatives, but all of them discuss
>>Ralf's proposal, a.k.a. proposal P.  I probably missed some, and of
>>course your own comments in favor of proposal P are not represented.
>>
>>Moreover, it distorts the (meta-)discussion to ignore commentary
>>about alternative proposals.  The existence and characteristics of
>>alternatives to Ralf's proposal are relevant to any decision about
>>it.  That the discussion shifted to focusing on alternatives is
>>natural given that most participants in the discussion disfavored
>>proposal P.
>>
>>I hope this helps.
>>
>>
>>Regards,
>>
>>John
>>
>>--
>>John C. Bollinger, Ph.D.
>>Department of Structural Biology
>>St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
>>
>>
>>
>>Email Disclaimer: 
>><http://www.stjude.org/emaildisclaimer>www.stjude.org/emaildisclaimer
>>
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>
>--
>=====================================================
>   Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
>     Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
>         Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769
>
>                   +1-631-244-3035
>                   <mailto:yaya@dowling.edu>yaya@dowling.edu
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-- 
=====================================================
  Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
    Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
         Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769

                  +1-631-244-3035
                  yaya@dowling.edu
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