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Re: Friendly help for psql

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: Peter Eisentraut <peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net>
Cc: pgsql-patches(at)postgresql(dot)org, Greg Sabino Mullane <greg(at)turnstep(dot)com>
Subject: Re: Friendly help for psql
Date: 2008-01-20 19:08:42
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Lists: pgsql-hackerspgsql-patches
Peter Eisentraut <peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net> writes:
> Greg Sabino Mullane wrote:
>> Why not run help when someone enters "help" (or "HELP ME!") on the
>> command line? \? is hardly an easy thing to remember (and some people
>> can't be bothered to actually read the screen...)

> Then surely the help output won't be of use to them either.

The actual argument for doing this is nothing more nor less than
"mysql does it like that".  99% of the people who will tell you this
is user-friendly think so because they used mysql before coming to

That might be sufficient reason to do it; I'm not sure.  Personally
I find it a really bad idea for psql to be usurping syntax that
doesn't start with a backslash, but I don't suppose I'm representative
of people who haven't absorbed the difference between psql and SQL.

Note that the mysql help facility covers both the mysql program and SQL
commands (ie both \? and \h in our terminology) so the proposed patch
is going to be seen as pretty lacking anyway by mysql-trained users.

It's interesting to note that "help", "\h", and "\?" all provoke the
same response(s) in mysql.  Perhaps a patch that had had more than two
seconds' design effort in it would do the same in psql; though I'm not
sure what to do to disambiguate the case with no arguments.

			regards, tom lane

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