Canol Gökel

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Variable variable names; PHP and others…

As you might know, in PHP you can easily use a variable to name another variable. For example,

$example = "canol";

Now, we will create a variable named “canol” with value “gokel”:

$$example = "gokel";

This is a really useful feature. But the community of other languages just can’t seem to accept it. Ask them how to use variables variable names and they will answer: “Use hashes, using variable variable names is stupid”. There are even some articles about it being stupid: http://perl.plover.com/varvarname.html

Although in the case of given examples in the link I’ve given above it is true, this is not the case always. I’ll give you a simple idea of a program and tell me how to do this using hash tables.

Suppose we have program, which asks user to enter a variable name, and the program looks whether that variable is defined in itself, then prints its value if it is defined. Can you write this program without using variable variable names? Well, if you consider writing an hash table which will include all the variable names you use and updating it whenever you change your program “not being stupid”, then, yes you can…

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If you want to understand blocks, then learn Smalltalk

When I was taking a look at Ruby to learn what is it like, I faced a concept called “block”. But I never got it bacause you could do everything with a block, also with traditional methods you learned so far. So I asked myself, why would a human being invent something like block? Maybe this is because of the people who tries to explain the blocks or because of my low IQ but this was the case for me when learning Ruby.

Then I started learning Smalltalk and even before I get to the blocks chapter of Blue Book, I thought there should be some kind of structure to group some expressions so that we can pass them as arguments and so that we can have controlling messages. And Smalltalk showed me the real meaning of the block concept, I got the subject at the first reading.

But if the block concept of Ruby is different then the block concept of Smalltalk and this observation is totally wrong then I would definately like to hear it.

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