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Re: [RFC PATCH]: autom4te: report subsecond timestamp support in --versi

From: Jacob Bachmeyer
Subject: Re: [RFC PATCH]: autom4te: report subsecond timestamp support in --version
Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2023 22:30:33 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20090807 MultiZilla/ SeaMonkey/1.1.17 Mnenhy/

Zack Weinberg wrote:
On Mon, Dec 4, 2023, at 7:26 PM, Jacob Bachmeyer wrote:
Now that I have seen the actual patch, yes, this test should be
accurate.  The test in the main autom4te script will also work, even
if there is a mismatch between the script and its library


This appears to be misaligned with the GNU Coding Standards, which
states:  "The first line is meant to be easy for a program to parse;
the version number proper starts after the last space."

Perhaps the best option would be to conditionally add a line "This
autom4te supports subsecond timestamps." after the license notice?

I don't like putting anything after the license notice because it's
convenient to be able to pipe --version output to sed '/Copyright/,$d'
without losing anything relevant for troubleshooting.  So how about

$ autom4te --version
autom4te (GNU Autoconf) 2.71
Features: subsecond-timestamps

Copyright (C) 2021 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+/Autoconf: GNU GPL version 3 or later
<>, <>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Written by Akim Demaille.

This preserves the effectiveness of sed '/Copyright/,$d' and also
leaves room for future additions to the "Features:" line.

That looks like a good idea to me, although the GNU Coding Standards do say (section 4.8.1, "--version") that the copyright and license notices "should" immediately follow the version numbers. The presence or absence of this feature is effectively determined by something similar to a library version (the availability of the Perl Time::HiRes module) and it is expected to be important for debugging, which is the criteria stated for listing library versions. Further, "should" does not express an absolute requirement and no rationale that would effectively make an absolute requirement (like a rule for automated parsing) is given here, unlike for the version in the first line.

-- Jacob

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