Issue #15966 has been updated by Eregon (Benoit Daloze).


josh.cheek (Josh Cheek) wrote:
> Why not a comment pragma for this, too? A flag seems out of place.

Thanks for your reply.
I think a pragma is pretty bad for changing the default value when there is no pragma, from the experience with the frozen string literals pragma.
If we allow files to opt out (e.g., `# frozen-string-literals: false`), it's basically impossible for compatibility to change the default value and remove the pragma.
I think the core team generally doesn't want more pragmas, it fragments the language (i.e., every file uses different Ruby semantics, IMHO pragmas should be only used when there is no other way).
Once the feature is no longer experimental, it should be available everywhere, without any pragma or flag.

> A flag also sets it globally, preventing one from opting-in in a scoped manner.

Actually I think that's a very good thing for syntax changes like the 2 mentioned above.
If somehow enabling it globally breaks something, that would be very useful feedback on the new feature.
Making global is I think necessary if we want to be able to introduce it as stable, always enabled, later on.

> For me, an experimental feature is like a private method. You can use it, if you're willing to accept the risk (it could change or even be removed).

I agree with this, but I think we need a mechanism to avoid the experimental feature being used in too many places, to be able to still change/remove it and reduce the cost for users when changing it.
A private method needs an explicit `send` to be called. For syntax features, I think a command-line flag makes sense.

----------------------------------------
Feature #15966: Introducing experimental features behind a flag, disabled by default
https://bugs.ruby-lang.org/issues/15966#change-79161

* Author: Eregon (Benoit Daloze)
* Status: Open
* Priority: Normal
* Assignee: matz (Yukihiro Matsumoto)
* Target version: 2.7
----------------------------------------
I feel frustrated with some recent experimental features being added in `trunk`. These features, in my opinion:
* did not have enough discussion before being introduced.
* are going to be almost impossible to remove or even improve.
* got criticisms from hundreds of Rubyists in a couple days, illustrating the feature has major issues.

I think some (or maybe all?) experimental features being added to the language should be disabled by default, and enabled by a flag.
For instance, we could use the features system and have `--enable-experimental=...`.

For instance I'm thinking to 2 experimental features which have many problems reported by many people:
* #4475 / #15723 / #15897 Numbered parameters (`@1`, `@2`, ...)
  I think nobody realized matz would say "yes" after 1 month on https://bugs.ruby-lang.org/issues/4475#note-14, and so there was *zero* discussion about `@1`, `@2` before it was merged, and now we might get stuck with it.
  Many people shared their opinions after, and I think we should consider them carefully, which means not releasing `@1`, `@2` "accidentally" in 2.7.

* #15799 The pipeline operator (`|>`).
  Very little discussion before it was introduced also (the bug was only opened 2 weeks).
  The discussion on the bug tracker seems to have been mostly ignored, the feature was added without a response to concerns on the bug tracker.

Even though both these feature are documented as experimental, if they are released in 2.7, they will not be experimental in any way: there is no warning, nothing special to use it.
So there is no hope to change them if they get in Ruby 2.7.

With the new flag, these experimental features would then be disabled by default, until the core team decides they are stable enough (e.g., there are no major issues with it anymore),
and could still be tried as soon as implemented using e.g., `--enable-experimental=nbargs,pipeline`.

This would allow experimenting with the feature, and discuss about it,
and yet not having the feature set in stone and still be able to change it or remove it.

When such a feature is introduced in Ruby, there is very little chance for it to change or be removed.
In fact, it requires many people in the community to  invest significant time to express the problems of the feature and yet sometimes it's not enough.
If by December, no agreement was reached or no decision by matz was taken, the feature will stay (basically forever) whether it's good or has many issues.
This is not a good process. It requires massive efforts from many people in the community and might result in nothing changed.

By massive efforts from many people, I mean for example:
* Going to Japan in person to discuss with Japanese MRI committers and get a better idea of motivations, thoughts, concerns.
  MRI committers outside Japan and Rubyists in general cannot attend or express their opinion at developer meetings where many decisions are taken, and so have to rely on Japanese MRI committers to relay their opinions.

* Summarizing threads of 100+ comments, and preparing slides or a summary for discussion at a developer meeting (it takes hours).
* Trying to get the motivation for the feature written down on the issue tracker, since often it is not well explained on the issue tracker.
* Writing blog posts sharing thoughts and how to improve the feature/why it should be removed.
* Posting comments on the MRI bug tracker (inconvenient for many people, requires extra account, we see more responses on Twitter or GitHub).
* Writing [blog posts](http://katafrakt.me/2019/06/15/im-worried-about-ruby-future/) or issues like this one to express the general problems of the process for introducing experimental features.

Also, people sometimes respond rather aggressively (me too, I am sorry about that),
because I think people feel it's already too late to share opinions and have an impact on the decision,
the feature might have many problems and yet it's extremely unlikely to change.
I can say it's not a comfortable situation at least, I feel ignored, watching things go wrong and not being able to do much about it.

So I propose `--enable-experimental=...` to make the introduction of experimental features more smooth and allow discussion before the feature is basically written in stone.
What do you think?



-- 
https://bugs.ruby-lang.org/

Unsubscribe: <mailto:ruby-core-request / ruby-lang.org?subject=unsubscribe>
<http://lists.ruby-lang.org/cgi-bin/mailman/options/ruby-core>