Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Mixing Content

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Oct 14, 2007

Originally posted on Half an Hour, October 14, 2007.

Here is some OCW Content:

A powerful programming language is more than just a means for instructing a computer to perform tasks. The language also serves as a framework within which we organize our ideas about processes. Thus, when we describe a language, we should pay particular attention to the means that the language provides for combining simple ideas to form more complex ideas. Every powerful language has three mechanisms for accomplishing this:

  • primitive expressions, which represent the simplest entities the language is concerned with,

  • means of combination, by which compound elements are built from simpler ones, and

  • means of abstraction, by which compound elements can be named and manipulated as units.

In programming, we deal with two kinds of elements: procedures and data. (Later we will discover that they are really not so distinct.) Informally, data is ``stuff'' that we want to manipulate, and procedures are descriptions of the rules for manipulating the data. Thus, any powerful programming language should be able to describe primitive data and primitive procedures and should have methods for combining and abstracting procedures and data.

In this chapter we will deal only with simple numerical data so that we can focus on the rules for building procedures.4 In later chapters we will see that these same rules allow us to build procedures to manipulate compound data as well.

And here is some Wikipedia content:

Good style, being a subjective matter, is difficult to concretely categorize; however, there are several elements common to a large number of programming styles. The issues usually considered as part of programming style include the layout of the source code, including indentation; the use of white space around operators and keywords; the capitalization or otherwise of keywords and variable names; the style and spelling of user-defined identifiers, such as function, procedure and variable names; the use and style of comments; and the use or avoidance of programming constructs themselves (such as GOTO statements).

Code appearance

Programming styles commonly deal with the appearance of source code, with the goal of improving the readability of the program. However, with the advent of software that formats source code automatically, the focus on appearance will likely yield to a greater focus on naming, logic, and higher techniques. As a practical point, using a computer to format source code saves time, and it is possible to then enforce company-wide standards without debates.


Indent styles assist in identifying control flow and blocks of code. In programming languages that use indentation to delimit logical blocks of code, indentation style directly affects the behaviour of the resulting program. In other languages, such as those that use brackets to delimit code blocks, the indentation style does not directly affect the product. Instead, using a logical and consistent indentation style makes code more readable. Compare:

They are mixed. And posted online.

Now if David Wiley is right, the heavens should open up and rain on me.


See, it doesn't matter if I take two bits of open content and mix them in this very obviously bloggish small-scale non-commerical way. Nobody on either license cares.

The license isn't just the text. It's in the intention, the interpretation, and the enforcement of the text.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

Copyright 2024
Last Updated: Jul 18, 2024 8:36 p.m.

Canadian Flag Creative Commons License.