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Re: Comments on SPKI draft of 25 March 1997

At 11:37 AM 3/29/97 EST, Ron Rivest wrote:
>On object names:
>The proposal envisions two types of object names, the "long form" and
>the "short form", as in
>	c = certificate
>	na = not-after
>and so on.  
>I would argue AGAINST having two forms of any object names (except for
>case variations) as follows:
>-- consider the two reasons for having two forms:
>	-- readability (favors the longer forms)
>	-- compression (favors the shorter forms)

There is a third reason: typeability (sp?).  For this, I prefer the short 
form.  If we ever actually compose certificates in a text editor (as opposed 
to just viewing them there), I strongly prefer the short form.

I also personally prefer the short form for readability.

I believe it has been a monsterous mistake to adopt long, self-descriptive 
names (e.g., in X programming, in COBOL, in most ASN.1, in many OOP 
examples, ...).  I grant that the long form, being self-descriptive,
(hopefully) carries its own man page with it (in a way) and that might help 
people interpret what they see in front of them, but it's not just out of 
laziness that all the examples I gave in the I-D used the short form of the 
names.  When you use a long-form name, you are using up valuable area on 
the user's display.  [I spent many years in the display business and have 
been battling the limitations of display size ever since 1966 but especially 
since 1969.  Displays get a little better with time, but they are still 
far too limited.]

When you use valuable sq-mm for a self-descriptive name (or, with typical
ASN.1, for a chain of twelve of them, separated by "." or "->", to get to the 
variable of interest), you have reduced the number of objects visible on a 
screen at once.  For me, readability comes from the number of objects I can 
see in front of me, not from how certain I am of the meaning of some 
individual token.  [Of course, I'm an emacs and UNIX user -- so I'm used to
having to memorize far more abbreviations and control characters than
we'll ever have for top level object names.]

 - Carl

|Carl M. Ellison  cme@cybercash.com   http://www.clark.net/pub/cme |
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