Readability != closeness-to-natural-language


January 24, 2013by @prust; node.js, philosophy

I used to equate readability with closeness-to-natural-language, but have found that this does not always ring true. Sometimes a DSL is more readable than it's natural language equivalent, due to a higher signal-to-noise ratio.

In my opinion, CSS and HTML fit into this category, along with glob and, in rare cases, regular expressions (whose idea was it to make a DSL where capitalization of things like \w is not only significant, but it negates the meaning?!).

For example, glob('*.sql', ...) is more readable than _.filter(files, function(file) { return _.str.endsWith(file, '.sql'); });. You can just look at glob('*.sql', ...) and you know what it means. This ability to glance at it and know its meaning instantly, without needing to read or parse a sentence makes it even more readable than the natural language equivalent, "filter to all the files that end with .sql".

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