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[sr #110364] obsolete agony

From: Karl Berry
Subject: [sr #110364] obsolete agony
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2020 18:41:14 -0500 (EST)
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/60.0

Follow-up Comment #3, sr #110364 (project autoconf):

Well, of course it's not up to me, but I have to argue further. Sorry. It just
feels like inflicting a lot of pain on maintainers for the sake of abstract
cleanliness. Precisely because these macros have worked fine for so many
years, it seems gratuitous to tell everyone to change them now without a
serious benefit in return. Which I don't see from your description. Sure, the
macros may be suboptimal, but they work. So why tell people to spend precious
time changing them?

Especially "names were considered inconsistent" and "replaced with a more
general or featureful mechanism". Who cares :)? Why does that make usage of
the old macro worth my time to change? Answer: it doesn't. As far as I can
see, those should never have been "declared" obsolete in the first place. It
just feels like arbitrary change for change's sake. Ugh. Something I'd expect
from Python, not Autoconf :).

As for the other macros, where obscurities are actually being fixed, if
maintainers want to clean up their sources, great, they can enable the
warnings. But in so many cases it's N steps upstream and/or not actively
maintained anywhere, so the warnings will just be aggravation.

BTW, as for Automake (and other projects that have required gratuitous
changes), I felt the same way there, but the changes were at least rather
minor (though I felt equally irritated making them). Hacking all these
Autoconf macros, and possible required code changes (no idea if the defined
symbols change if the macros change), does not feel minor at all.

Grepping TeX Live for the obsolete macros, I see over 250 occurrences. Yikes!
Most of them are in upstream libraries -- cairo, freetype, gd, gmp, harfbuzz,
libpng, mpfr, pixman, teckit, zlib, zziplib, icu, lua, and various ax_* macros
(from autoconf-archive, which is probably going to be affected terribly?), and
upstream programs (won't bother to list). I think this change is going to be
waking up a lot of maintainers, and not in any way that they would welcome.

Paul: I'm certainly not one to turn down help (thanks!), but I expect it might
take you about the same amount of (or less, hopefully) time to go through the
list of obsolete macros and document what needs to be done in each case. I
think that would be a far better use of your time, helping everyone who runs
into this.

But, in any case, if you want to see the TL source tree, you can get it with
svn co svn://tug.org/texlive/trunk.

Thanks for listening. Compatibility is one of my triggers, I guess.


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