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From "Conal Tuohy" <>
Subject RE: New "module" terminology: WAS: Extending the build system for modules
Date Tue, 20 Aug 2002 22:38:27 GMT
Hi Giacomo

> Well, the intent of Stefanos RT about blocks was that even
> such "modules"
> would be implemented as Blocks because the provide specialized
> functionallity

Oh good ... that's what I thought :-)

But the main point I wanted to discuss (when I forked this thread) was only
a MINOR, non-technical point about terminology. Unfortunately I messed up by
controversially linking modules and blocks in the same message ;-)

The word "block".

It's a MINOR matter, for sure, but I think it's worth discussing what
"block" etc means to different people, and the relationship with other
Cocoon words (such as "pipeline"). The content of the "Block" idea is good,
but a different name would be a help, IMHO, especially for Cocoon newbies.

So long as blocks are still vapourware we can potentially change the
terminology, but once blocks are REAL it will be almost impossible to change

I don't want to distract from the actual hard work of implementing blocks,
etc, so if you're not interested in the terminology itself, please don't be
offended by me bringing up this trivial matter - just ignore me ;-)

I've got 4 issues with the word "block":

1) Inactive

This is my main problem with the word. In common English usage a block is
USUALLY just a rectangular lump of something solid, often a support for
something (a platform or stand), but it can be a synonym for brick. A
platform (or a brick) is a unit of construction, so this is good, but it
doesn't imply *action* - it can imply construction, but construction of
something static like a wall. Is there a metaphor which implies construction
of something *active*? A system or engine or mechanism? "Cog", for instance?*

Cog n.
	One of a series of teeth, as on the rim of a wheel
	or gear, whose engagement transmits successive
	motive force to a corresponding wheel or gear.

	A cogwheel.

	A subordinate member of an organization who performs
	necessary but usually minor or routine functions.

Bertrand Delacretz's example has blocks implementing "behaviour", which is
more compatible with "active" words such as "server", "agent", "actor" etc,
though these words are obviously no good. "Performer"? "Operator"?
"Employee"? "Instrument"?

2) Overloaded lists at least 19 meanings* - some are actually very good,
but some are not. But any word with so many meanings is going to sound

The good meanings include "engine block", "A pulley or a system of pulleys
set in a casing", "A length of railroad track controlled by signals", "One
of a set of small wooden or plastic pieces, such as a cube, bar, or
cylinder, used as a building toy". I can see why Stefano (?) chose the word.

But there are some negative connotations, too, such as an "obstacle" or
"hindrance", and "an obstruction in a pipe or tube". A "block" can also mean
a template, for printing, or for moulding. These last are not very common
usages of "block", but they're potentially confusing IMHO.

3) Incompatible with "pipeline"

Bricks are not made of pipes ;-) We should have a network of pipelines, or a
little engine, or something ... I don't know. What about "organ"? maybe
"organ" sounds a bit weird, but it is a good match:

Organ n.

	An instrument consisting of a number of pipes
	that sound tones when supplied with air and a
	keyboard that operates a mechanism controlling
	the flow of air to the pipes. Also called pipe
	Any one of various other instruments, such as
	the electronic organ, that resemble a pipe
	organ either in mechanism or sound.

	A differentiated part of an organism, such as
	an eye, wing, or leaf, that performs a specific

An instrument or agency dedicated to the performance
	of specified functions: The FBI is an organ of
	the Justice Department.

An instrument or a means of communication, especially
	a periodical issued by a political party,
	business firm, or other group.

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