Use ! and != in REBOL?

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
2-May-2006 18:51 GMT

Article #0017
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There are a lot of little differences between REBOL and other languages. Some of these differences are important, and others are not.

For the most part REBOL differences were not based on a whim. For example, REBOL uses the block "[]" characters for a reason, and uses semicolon ";" comments for a similar reason: they are very easy-to-type unshifted keys on US keyboards (on non-US keyboards, well, sorry), and they print well (blocks look like blocks with []).

But, one difference that a few new users dislike is that REBOL's not-equals symbol is "<>". These chars were picked because < and > are used for comparisons, so putting them together for not-equal was logical.

However, the C language established the convention of "!=". This is a combination of not "!" and "=" (which does not actually mean equal in C, it means assignment, but we will ignore that little fact).

Currently in REBOL "!" or "!=" are not defined. But, we're trying to be more friendly in REBOL 3.0, even if just a bit. So, the question is, should we make these standard? (As a little history side-note, Python moved from <> to allowing != also.)

It's trivially easy to make this change, and if it makes a few hundred programmers happier, well, perhaps it's worth it. This isn't the first time we've considered this idea, but in REBOL 3.0 we're making a wide range changes, so it's a good idea to rediscuss a few of these small issues.

So, let's hear your comments on it.


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