lua-users home
lua-l archive

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

On 2/5/2016 10:58 PM, Paul Merrell wrote:
PIL is not a book for novices. They lack the vocabulary to understand
it or the manual.

Novice programmers, no, not really. But novices in Lua, sure. The pair together are a complete course in the Lua language. The wiki, this list, and the Gems book provide a significant resource. The Lua tag at Stack Overflow is also well tended by experts, including one of Lua's authors.

As an example, take a look at this excerpt from the
v. 5.3 Reference Manual:

The following strings denote other tokens:

      +     -     *     /     %     ^     #
      &     ~     |     <<    >>    //
      ==    ~=    <=    >=    <     >     =
      (     )     {     }     [     ]     ::
      ;     :     ,     .     ..    ...
That's the entire explanation of those tokens. I'm 3 or 4 years into
working with Lua and I still haven't the slightest glimmer what the
ellipsis is for. And unless I've missed it, that explanation is also
missing from PIL.

That list is from section 3.1. See the rest of chapter three for a detailed breakdown that covers all of those tokens, most of which get somewhere between a sentence and a whole section in section 3.4. The ellipsis is defined in 3.4.11.

This is a good example of a property that well written reference manuals have. They are terse. They don't repeat themselves. And the author of each sentence generally is free to assume that you already have read and understood every other sentence in the reference manual. In short, with very few exceptions a good reference manual is a horrible textbook.

Similarly, PiL is not a reference manual, nor is it an introductory text in programming. Although it is among the best of its breed. Over the many years (I began learning C in '82 from the 1st edition of K&R) that I've been programming, I have seen some real doozies.

Ross Berteig                     
Cheshire Engineering Corp.