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more editorial comment on format
Some years ago, while taking a software engineering class, I heard a
lecture on "The Magical Number Seven". Essentially, the idea is that
people get confused if confronted with more than seven options or
choices at one time. Wouldn't it be nice if we only had to remember
7 obscure format commands, instead of 30 (plus all of their innumerable
modifiers and variations)? Personally, I think that if you need to use
more than ~a, ~s, ~%, ~t, and ~~, you should be writing Lisp code to
do the formatting instead of using this crufty embedded language that
bears no resemblance or relationship to the rest of Common Lisp.
It's also unfortunate that there aren't *functions* provided to do some
of the nastier numeric formatting, like ~e and friends. Trying to
imitate the way FORTRAN does it is not necessarily a very good idea.
Anybody who has ever taught FORTRAN knows that FORMAT is by far the
most difficult part of the language to understand. Even experienced
FORTRAN programmers who think they grok FORMAT are continually surprised
by its bizzarities. I suppose that if CL was trying to achieve cultural
compatibility with FORTRAN, it's succeeded....