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consistency in match_template

daemon@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Thu Apr 28 16:44:13 1994 )

From: stewarta@netcom.com (Alex Stewart)
To: coldstuff@MIT.EDU
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 1994 13:33:48 -0700 (PDT)

(I renamed the subject because I just couldn't stand seeing "consistency"
mangled any longer :)

> People are objecting to it; they are saying that the user should be
> able to quote part of the argument as a C string literal.

Aha, but you didn't say anything about this case in your statement.  I am
saying that the user should be able to do _both_, which does not disagree with
your original statement, only append to it.  Anyway, this is beside the main

> I disagree.  For user-level parsing, the primary job of the parser is
> to keep its nose out of the user's business (for examples of parsers
> which forget this rule, see Mush).  Consistency is secondary; the user
> spends a lot of time in the parser and will learn its rules quickly
> enough.

I agree, however, we apparently have different ideas about what "keeping its
nose out of the user's business" means.  I maintain that if I have to stop and
think every time I issue a command about whether my quotes will show up in the
output or not based on what the template looks like (which I may not even know,
and certainly shouldn't be required to know), that the parser is most
definitely sticking its nose into my business in a very arbitrary way.
Consistency is required for a decent user interface, and simply saying "they'll
figure it out" is not good enough because they shouldn't have to if it's
properly done in the first place.

> You are correct; it is Coolmud's verb-dobj-prep-iobj parsing which
> works the same way as Coldmud's "verb * prep *" template matching.

Oh.. I assumed you were talking MOO since CoolMUD is, from all reports I've
gotten, essentially dead.

> 	whisper The spy told me, "Ken sent me." to dave

Just a note, this form of use is dangerous at best anyway.  For example, what
if I said instead:

	whisper The spy said to me, "Ken sent me." to dave

In short, none of these solutions are really adequate..

Lynx's suggestion about using something like ` seems the best alternative, but
actually, what I'm leaning towards at this point is simply expanding the
options for how match_template functions, thus allowing people to determine
in-DB which type of matching they wish to use for any given application..
something along the lines of

match_template(template, string, quote-char, quote-handling, field-handling)

where quote-char is a single-char string (specifying which char should be used
in the place " is used currently) or a double-char string (specifying an
open-close pair), quote-handling is a symbol specifying whether quotes are
transparent (removed from output), passed thru intact, etc. and field-handling
specifies whether quotes denote field breaks and whether quoted portions can
match keywords as well as wildcards, etc.