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Re: Discrimination

From: Reuben Thomas
Subject: Re: Discrimination
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2009 21:21:45 +0200

2009/8/2 Francesco Salvestrini <address@hidden>:

> On Sunday 02 August 2009, Peter Simons wrote:
>> Reuben Thomas wrote:
>> Yes, this is a useful distinction indeed. General-purpose macros like
>> AX_COMPARE_VERSION lay foundations for other macros to build on, which
>> means that bugs in those macros tend to affect a lot of other code. It's
>> a good idea, IMHO, to put those macros under some additional scrutiny.
> Let us have a regression test suite in place, that would ease the job a lot.
> I think that it would be better to have the regression test suite up and
> running before beginning the hack-and-slash fest ...

Let us by all means have a regression test suite, but let us not wait
for it. We can do all sorts of hacking on the head and it won't
greatly inconvenience any of us or anyone else, nor will particular
orderings of the projects suggested so far save much work later, I'd

> We should tag the macros then transform the tags into html lines (something
> like '# USE: generic, perl' -> generic and perl could be use to generate a
> better line in the html pages that will be later indexed by the
> web-scrapers).

I'm dubious that one can do better than choosing good names and
letting Google & co. work their magic.

> We could accept even macros that seems not so necessary and funnel them later
> in a more generic macro and some one-liner examples (the way I did for

Sure, it's always good to be flexible and accept most things that
aren't immediately implementable in terms of existing macros (and
anything which is is often a sign that better documentation (by which
I mainly mean structuring and naming) is needed).

> Those one liners come handy in the latter case, even if they are apparently of
> scarce use for us.

But they don't have to be separate macros, then can be in the docs for
the relevant macro being called.

> But ... do you think that all autoconf users are shell-gurus capable of
> tracking macros error, quoting sed expression the right way, hacking macros
> or even using autotools the right way ? I see in the #gnu IRC channel people
> asking for aclocal/autoconf problems the whole day...

No, it's certainly worth providing simple macros. But it should
nonetheless be possible to obsolete some of the dumber ones by better
design. There's a difference between a complicated single line and a
simple one!

> Would be better for them to have examples, in order to teach them to use other
> macros ?

Examples are good, indeed because for many users that's often what
they want, e.g. for a macro that checks whether a program or library
exists, they can just copy and change to the program or library they
want. I often do this when I'm using a new macro or API or whatever.
The less thinking one has to do the better: brain cells are a scarce

L’art des vers est de transformer en beautés les faiblesses (Aragon)

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