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Documentation and error messages
- To: David A. Moon <Moon at SCRC-TENEX at MIT-MC>
- Subject: Documentation and error messages
- From: Scott E. Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>
- Date: Fri, 08 Oct 1982 01:13:00 -0000
- Cc: common-lisp at SU-AI
... That word "DEFUN" is telling you how to
interpret the name of the thing whose documentation you are retrieving;
it is the name of a "name space". It is 100% wrong to multiply the number
of name spaces by the number of kinds of documentation you might want, and
have as many symbols for documentation as we used to have for sequence
functions. The level of documentation you want should be a separate
argument to the DOCUMENTATION function.
Well, I seem to have misunderstod Moon's proposal on this, but his
position seems rather doctrinaire. The point, as I see it, is that
simply saying (documentation 'foo) might get you any of several things,
so another argument is required to specify what you really want. I
don't think we'll end up with 600 of these.
I agree, however, that this whole documentation thing is getting too
hairy, and that for now we probably shouldn't try to put too many
user-environment things into the white pages. In addition to Moon's
name spaces and this short/long business, we have the whole unresolved
business of reformatting doc strings. Maybe we should forget the whole
thing. All that the white pages really need to say is that DEFUN
optionally contains a string that is meant to be documentation, and that
these should not choke your implementation. Such strings, along with
those from DEFVAR and friends, get printed somehow via the semi-standard
function DESCRIBE, and they may be accessible in other ways.
Maybe in this case less is more.