Hash Datatype Conclusions
Ok, a lot of good input posted on Change the Hash Datatype
in 3.0?. Thanks.
Generally, I like the strength of the REBOL language to be at the
datatype level. I'd really like to find a good solution to this
issue as a datatype -- not requiring mezz functions (or nothing more than "simplicity wrappers" at mezz level).
As you know, datatypes in REBOL span not only internal representation, but also methods of operation (e.g. block
vs hash) and external representation (e.g. block vs path). These are
important in REBOL, and provide insight into the range of valid solutions.
My view is: hash! works, but at the expense of implementational
complexity (e.g. it was buggy for "good reason"), additional overhead (strict block order maintenance), and a general impedance mismatch to most usage cases (e.g. dictionary).
I think it's this last case that defines the problem and hence dictates the solution. The primary goal of all REBOL datatypes is to provide a
simple concept -- our brains seek a pure, simple abstraction. We know
what integers are and do. We know what blocks are and do. But, hash!,
unfortunately that's a mystery to many developers. We don't think
of it as a nice concept "nugget".
Yet, the concept of a "dictionary" itself is a simple abstraction and
has found extensive use in many other languages. So, that sounds more
like a proper REBOL datatype, rather than hash.
I think that is the direction we need to go. We don't want to
google the usage of a datatype each time we need it. We want it to pop
into our brains... a simple abstraction. The concept of an associative
array or dictionary lookup does that.
Now comes that sweet and sour process of picking a good datatype name
for it. Do we want to still call it hash!, is it better to call it
assoc! or dictionary!, or can we find a better/shorter name? Got one? Post it. Thanks.