Nerd content and
cringe since 1999
Alexander Grupe

Watching an NDC talk about programming languages I saw this, an implementation of Fizz buzz in APL:

I haven’t ever touched APL, and I know it uses all kinds of weird letters and shapes, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t use typographical quotes.

Or does it?

Yeah, no, it doesn’t.

Seems to be a case of “copied the code from a web page that performs ‘smart’ quote replacing”. That’s always annoying – not the copying part, but the fact that code on websites gets demolished by brain-dead Wordpress plugins so often. Replacing the hexadecimal 0x prefix with in the text and even in font ligatures plays on the same level…

But this got me thinking: How about a compiler that detects code with typographical “enhancements” copied from a website or a Word document and behaves differently? Like a quirks mode for code. Consider:

public class HelloPasteCode {
  public static void main(String... args) {
    System.out.println(Hello world!);
    System.out.println(Hexadecimal 2A is  + 0×2A);

Instead of spewing out ugly error messages:

> java error: ')' expected
    System.out.println(ÔÇ£Hello world!ÔÇ?);
                               ^ error: not a statement
    System.out.println(ÔÇ£Hello world!ÔÇ?);
                                ^ error: ';' expected
    System.out.println(ÔÇ£Hello world!ÔÇ?);
                                     ^ error: illegal character: '\ufffd'
    System.out.println(ÔÇ£Hello world!ÔÇ?);

…it could do the right thing and just run the copy-pasted code and present the result accordingly. In this context, redirecting STDOUT to a browser window seems approriate:

Of course, not without adding a subtle indicator that we are running in “pasted code quirks mode” at the end. 🤓

PS: To be fair, later in this talk an (unused) slide with well-formed code is rushing by, so there seems to be awareness of the problem somewhere:

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