15.2. Starting Over?

Four years ago, in Installment Chapter 14, Types, I promised you that our days of re-inventing the wheel, and recoding the same software over and over for each lesson, were over, and that from now on we'd stick to more complete programs that we would simply add new features to. I still intend to keep that promise; that's one of the main purposes for using units. However, because of the long time since Installment Chapter 14, Types, it's natural to want to at least do some review, and anyhow, we're going to have to make rather sweeping changes in the code to make the transition to units. Besides, frankly, after all this time I can't remember all the neat ideas I had in my head four years ago. The best way for me to recall them is to retrace some of the steps we took to arrive at Installment Chapter 14, Types. So I hope you'll be understanding and bear with me as we go back to our roots, in a sense, and rebuild the core of the software, distributing the routines among the various units, and bootstrapping ourselves back up to the point we were at lo, those many moons ago. As has always been the case, you're going to get to see me make all the mistakes and execute changes of direction, in real time. Please bear with me … we'll start getting to the new stuff before you know it.

Since we're going to be using multiple modules in our new approach, we have to address the issue of file management. If you've followed all the other sections of this tutorial, you know that, as our programs evolve, we're going to be replacing older, more simple-minded units with more capable ones. This brings us to an issue of version control. There will almost certainly be times when we will overlay a simple file (unit), but later wish we had the simple one again. A case in point is embodied in our predilection for using single-character variable names, keywords, etc., to test concepts without getting bogged down in the details of a lexical scanner. Thanks to the use of units, we will be doing much less of this in the future. Still, I not only suspect, but am certain that we will need to save some older versions of files, for special purposes, even though they've been replaced by newer, more capable ones.

To deal with this problem, I suggest that you create different directories, with different versions of the units as needed. If we do this properly, the code in each directory will remain selfconsistent. I've tentatively created four directories: SINGLE (for single-character experimentation), MULTI (for, of course, multi-character versions), TINY, and KISS.

Enough said about philosophy and details. Let's get on with the resurrection of the software.