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Proposal: make $ serve as GROUP, leave \\ to always be SPLIT

This page is part of the web mail archives of SRFI 110 from before July 7th, 2015. The new archives for SRFI 110 contain all messages, not just those from before July 7th, 2015.

This is kinda late to say this, and I'm not at all sure it's an improvement. ÂBut the thought won't leave me, so better now than never...

\\'s dual duty is nagging me. ÂIntuitively, I grasp the operators like this:
- SPLIT prevents creation of lists ("a \\ b") or at least fractures them ("a b \\ c d").
- GROUP's sole reason[*] for existence is to express a list of child lines.
- SUBLIST (usually) creates lists.

Which leads me to feel that \\'s two meanings are opposite â SPLIT is "anti-list", GROUP is "pro-list".
=> What if we make a lone $ on a line serve as GROUP, making $ always "pro-list"?
Then we'd write:

! $
! ! x foo()
! ! y bar()
! do-stuff(x y ...)

[this currently isn't legal (trailing $), and would produce a spurious (((x ...) (y ...))) level if it were legal.]

I don't really think the "pro-list vs anti-list" argument is critical; the more important criteria are:
* Can this unify the handling of leading $ vs head $ rest?
 If this can reduce us from 3 central constructs to 2, it's a major win.
 If leading $ remains a special case, just subtler, maybe it's a loss.
* Is this consistent with $ in haskell? Â[don't know if this Q even means anything]

Another issue I see with the current leading $ behavior is this inconsistency:

foo (a b) ==> (foo (a b))
foo $ a b ==> (foo (a b))
(a b) ==> (a b)
$ a b ==> ((a b))Â ; huh?!

foo a ==> (foo a)
foo $ a ==> (foo a)
a ==> a
$ a ==> (a)Â ; huh?!

In other words, I feel that since "$ ..." always produces one object (whether atom or list), it should be exempt from wrapping in a list if "$ ..." is the first thing on a line.
This implies that "$ $ $ a" ==> a. I'm not sure I love that, but that's how "\\ \\ \\ a" works now.

[*] I've ignored the do-nothing leading \\ usage for stylisitically indenting some things, e.g. Arc's flat if and keyword args:

! cond1
! \\ then1 ...
! kw:
! \\ arg ...

IIRC this is currently ascribed to GROUP's disappearing act, but the same effect with \\ could also be explained as a SPLIT with nothing on one side.
Alternatively, you can drop the behavior from \\ and use $ instead:

! cond1
! $ then1 ...
! kw:
! $ arg ...

but that'd miss the symmetry that now exists with one-liner form:

! cond1Â\\ then1 ...
! kw:Â\\ arg ...

P.S. Cosmetic points:

- We'd lose the diagonal look of \\ which felt appropriate for GROUP.

+ The remaining sense of \\ will be familiar to TeX users ;-|
 Curiously, the blank-line semantics (comment = not blank) also match.