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Re: Suggestion for improved clarity in xref.el symbol names

From: Dmitry Gutov
Subject: Re: Suggestion for improved clarity in xref.el symbol names
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2016 23:55:09 +0300
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/45.0

Hello Robert,

On 04/19/2016 11:27 PM, Robert Weiner wrote:
The xref.el library has many variables and functions with `backend' in
them, indicating that they represent language-dependent entities.
Before the xref API is set in stone, I would consider replacing this
term with 'language' as it reads better in the names,

Thanks for the suggestion, but a backend is not a language, it's a particular solution for a given language and/or environment.

There will (hopefully) be multiple different backends for certain languages. There can be backends that are specific to a certain environment within a language (say, only projects using a particular framework), and so on.

A backend can also be language-agnostic. In fact, one of the two backends available now is that (etags).

it refers to a
concept intrinsic to the cross-references themselves which are
language-specific, whereas backend is just an implementation detail, and
it will make more sense to users of the library who may not be familiar
with the concept of a `backend'.

The functions and variables with the word "backend" in them are normally something only backend authors should be concerned with. And they should get familiar with the concept, because xref-backend-functions is the main entry point to this API. I'm not sure the phrase "xref language" could convey the same notion.

The user-level commands don't have the word "backend" in them.

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