syntactic salt

The opposite of syntactic sugar, a feature designed to make it harder to write bad code. Specifically, syntactic salt is a hoop the programmer must jump through just to prove that he knows what's going on, rather than to express a program action. Some programmers consider required type declarations to be syntactic salt. A requirement to write "end if", "end while", "end do", etc. to terminate the last block controlled by a control construct (as opposed to just "end") would definitely be syntactic salt. Syntactic salt is like the real thing in that it tends to raise hackers' blood pressures in an unhealthy way. Compare candygrammar.

[Jargon File]

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syntactic sugar

Term coined by Peter Landin for additions to the syntax of a language which do not affect its expressiveness but make it "sweeter" for humans to use. Syntactic sugar gives the programmer an alternative way of coding that is more succinct or more like some familiar notation. It does not affect the expressiveness of the formalism (compare chrome).

Syntactic sugar can be easily translated ("desugared") to produce a program in some simpler "core" syntax. E.g. C's "a[i]" notation is syntactic sugar for "*(a + i)". In a (curried) functional language, all operators are really functions and the use of infix notation "x+y" is syntactic sugar for function application "(+) x y".

Alan Perlis once quipped, "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon."

The variants "syntactic saccharin" and "syntactic syrup" are also recorded. These denote something even more gratuitous, in that they serve no purpose at all. Compare candygrammar, syntactic salt.

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Nearby terms: synflood « synonym ring « syntactic salt « syntactic sugar » syntax » Syntax-Case » syntax directed translation


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