There is a common problem we inherited from VT-100 terminal times: there is insufficient amount of buttons on a keyboard. While Latin alphabet contains 23 letters, modern variation has 26 letters (J, U and W instilled,) and some languages using it have added “diacriticsized” letters (like umlauts in German and Swedish, “island” Ø and “ångström” Å in Danish and Norwegian, etc.)

On Cyrillic keyboards (33 letters in the alphabet,) we have made a sacrifice of square brackets and backtick, to admit additional letters into the house. I am afraid to imagine how Archaic Egyptian keyboard should look like.

Due to the lack of place on our laptops and cellulars, we get accustomed to use neutral straight dumbs instead of singular, double quotes, and even instead of an apostrophe. Especially in programming languages.

Whoever cares about a typography rules in error messages, formatted as

err: there is no such entity in container (#42)

Well, first of all since one has a localized application, she probably does not want to scare these touchy Finns with wrong typography. And, you know, different languages have different typography rules.

In fact, using proper typography quotes (well, hang the Finns, even simple English quotation marks,) one yields a ton of profit. Typographically correct quotation marks are:

  • idempotent, left and right differ;
  • easy to grep in the huge codebase;
  • do not need any escaping anywhere in the code.

The latter is the silver bullet. Matz even invented %Q{} literal to simplify the dealing with strings, containing both single and double quotation marks, but what this string is converted to json? passed to remote service? encoded and decoded?


There is just no problem with strings, containing typographically correct quotation marks. Not. At. All.

Pass them everywhere (I doubt about COBOL, but any other language in 2015 would gracefully understand the unicode,) convert it back and forth, escape them, unescape them, you’ll always have the correct result.

     str = 'And God said “We’ll call it ‘typography’,” and there was light'

Actually, I came to this conclusion after a couple of hours of hard debug session, where quoted string was passed into javascript from ruby with a superfluous escaping, ruining json content, but still providing the well-formed json.