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Re: [xsl] Haskell programmer's rant about xslt

Subject: Re: [xsl] Haskell programmer's rant about xslt
From: Michael Kay <mike@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 09:26:22 +0100

One can debate the merits of such-and-such an approach to
transformations and the debate should be lively.

But verbiage such as "your bastard child of a language" has no utility
whatsoever and certainly no place in polite discourse.

I would suggest giving this guy's opinions no further attention.

At one level, of course, you're right, Alan.

On the other hand, a rant like this is a reminder that when as engineers we are designing and constructing artefacts, we need to remember that people will have an emotional response to those artefacts, rather than a purely rational and utilitarian response. Steve Jobs built the Apple empire by recognizing that fact and exploiting it. Gerry Weinberg's book "the psychology of computer programming" is one I really must read again, because it focuses on programming as a human activity in which we are driven by many factors that aren't purely rational.

I find the range of emotional reactions to XSLT fascinating. It's a "love it or hate it" language (as indeed is Haskell). People approach it with very different perspectives: some people are happy to treat it initially as a simple fill-in-the-blanks templating language and learn its subtleties later, others (like me) find it necessary to understand the deep concepts of a tool before they are happy using it. I think it's our job as technology designers to understand how the psychology of our users that will trigger emotional reactions to the tools that we deliver.

Anyone who wants a new programming language to succeed has to understand that it will not succeed or fail on the basis of measurable and rational criteria like delivering a 10% improvement in programmer productivity, it will succeed or fail on the basis of gut reaction.

Michael Kay

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