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Re: Friendly help for psql

From: "Greg Sabino Mullane" <greg(at)turnstep(dot)com>
To: pgsql-patches(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Friendly help for psql
Date: 2008-01-22 06:18:07
Message-ID: 88927e8fcef11e27ce73dadcfbbdd9dc@biglumber.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-hackerspgsql-patches
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>> No. While the original poster may have been making a separate comparison
>> to MySQL, I can assure you that my impetus for doing this is not being
>> driven by the behavior of the mysql client.

> Then what is the motivation for this?  We have many sources of help.  I have 
> never heard of any user not being able to find help.

Maybe you need to get out in the trenches more, I've seen users confused 
at the psql prompt.

>> Having "help" do something 
>> other than throw a syntax error is a very common feature in many
>> interactive programs, for example openssl, gdb, ftp, bash, mail,
>> telnet, and vim.

> The difference with these tools is that they don't already tell you how to get 
> help when you log in.
>
> Now I have actually thought for a while whether we could get rid of the login 
> text altogether.  I would support trading that for extended help options.  
> But if the login note is there, then we don't need more help options.

What about when the login note is no longer available? New person logs on, 
issues a select * from customer; then tries to remember how to view all the tables. 
Or how to quit. Their first instinct is "help" - no reason we cannot support that; 
it does no harm at all to people who don't use it. Another use case: someone has a 
'screen' session open to a psql prompt, and sends someone else in to it, or comes 
back later on. Same thing: the login note is no longer available ('screen' has a 
small scrollback), and even if you've used it before, "backslash question mark" 
is, let's be honest, very obscure, unintuitive, and hard to remember.

I'd support an alternative text rather than "slashusage" as long as something 
is put into place.

- --
Greg Sabino Mullane greg(at)turnstep(dot)com
PGP Key: 0x14964AC8 200801220101
http://biglumber.com/x/web?pk=2529DF6AB8F79407E94445B4BC9B906714964AC8
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