REBOL for COBOL programmers

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On punctuation

Date written: November 6, 2015
Date revised:
Date reviewed:

A note about the punctuation that is missing in REBOL.

COBOL was designed to be "English-like," and so embraced the concept of sentences ending with periods. As you know, there is some fallout from that. If you miss one period in the right place, you get a gazillion syntax errors. If you forget a period after an IF statement, the program runs but does not behave as expected. The way that conditional code is stopped by a period makes it harder to write certain conditional logic.

But, if you have spent many decades with a language that has punctuation, the lack of it can be a bit confusing. The punctuation provides clues about how the program works. Statements can be terminated, or grouped. Function arguments can be easy to spot.

When you work with REBOL and its punctuationless syntax, it might seem a little hard to understand. Patience is encouraged. After a time, you will get used to it. Then you will have to go back to some other language where punctuation is part of the syntax. You will make some punctuation-related error, or you will be unable to remember where some punctuation mark goes, and you will fume a bit and wonder, "Why do I need all this punctuation."