"Inheritance considered harmful"

Steven R. Newcomb srn at techno.com
Thu Apr 2 23:24:57 BST 1998

[Paul Prescod <papresco at technologist.com>:]

> That's right. That's why people get so confused about them. The word
> inheritance is inherently misleading when applied to architectural
> forms.

Paul is absolutely right, but I'm still not going to take his advice.

For several months last year, I deliberately stopped using the
word "inherit", as in "inheriting architecture", "inherited-from
architecture", etc.  Instead, I very carefully used the words
"derived" for the inheriting architecture and "enabling" for the
inherited architecture.  This is the vocabulary used in the standard.

Ultimately, however, I reluctantly gave up on precision vocabulary
because nobody understood what I was talking about, except for people
whom I had no need to reach because they already understood the
concepts.  In almost all rhetorical situations, I have to use
vocabulary that may be, strictly speaking, misleading, and yet
provides some glimmer of understanding to the HyTime-inexperienced.
I'm back to "inherited" and "inheriting", and I never even try to use
"enabling" and "derived" any more.  I'm open to other suggestions,
though.  Got any?


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
srn at techno.com  http://www.techno.com  ftp.techno.com

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