Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs

Baecker, Ronald M.; Marcus, Aaron
Addison-Wesley 1990
ISBN 0-201-10745-7
348pp
Date finished: 2010-05-30

A monograph published by ACM Press on improved typesetting of C programs. The authors assessed the possible ways that text can be displayed differently (color, font, size, weight) and wrote a C pretty-printer using the Portable C Compiler (pcc) and troff. (Disappointingly, they didn't release their code, calling their prototype "too fragile".)

Unfortunately I think the environment has passed by the printing of program code, and that means this monograph is no longer of current interest. Today significant programs are so large that no one is ever going to print them out; for example, Python 2.7 is 316,000 lines; assuming 2-up printing puts 120 lines on a page, that's 2600 pages. Now we are concerned with interactive displays (here only briefly mentioned in a concluding appendix) and with analysis tools. Most of the typographical details for a printed page aren't very applicable to a screen display, and I'm astonished that the authors thought proportional fonts were better than monospaced fonts for code.

Tagged: programming languages, typography

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2010/05/Human_Factors_Readable_Programs.html

%T Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs
%A Baecker, Ronald M.
%A Marcus, Aaron
%D 1990
%G ISBN 0-201-10745-7
%K typography, programming languages
%@ 2010-05-30
%P 348pp
%I Addison-Wesley

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