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This question regards general software development tools and libraries, not just tools such as ANTLR that are specifically meant for designing/implementing programming languages. What criteria must questions about general software development tools or libraries meet to qualify as on topic (if they should be considered on topic at all)?

This question was provoked by this question on the main site about how to configure ClangFormat to properly format a language the OP made.

It'd be nice if any proposed criteria could help determine whether the following kinds of questions are on-topic:

  • A question about configuring a tool to help with implementing something related to one's own language (like the example above)
  • A question about forking a tool to support one's own language rather than merely configuring it
  • A question about configuring a tool to work with a language that the poster is not a contributor to (e.g. making ESLint work for Java)
  • A question about making a library that has nothing to do with language development work with one's own language (e.g. using JLine (a Java library) from your language that compiles to JVM bytecode)
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I believe that questions about implementing and supporting languages within third-party tools, including formatters and syntax highlighters, should be on topic. The decisive factor is whether a third-party-tool question is about implementing or supporting a language within that tool.

Questions about configuring third-party tools in general should not be on-topic; for example, we don't want questions about how to configure a Javascript formatter to add or remove semicolons, or use a certain number of spaces. Questions like that are not about implementing or supporting a language, they are about supporting a stylistic preference. On the other hand, configuring a formatting tool so that it keeps := tokens as individual tokens is an implementation requirement based on a language's syntax, not a stylistic preference.

It shouldn't matter whether the language is one the OP has designed or contributed to; we judge based on the question, not based on who asked it.


The specific linked question has a separate problem, which is that the ClangFormat tool (according to its docs) is only designed for a specific set of languages, not designed to be configured for what the asker wants to use it for. This is unrelated to whether the topic of the question is within bounds for the site, but I mention it to make clear that I'm not advocating for the specific question to remain open on the main site.

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