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Re: On the size of the command set

From: Benjamin Pflugmann <benjamin-svn-dev_at_pflugmann.de>
Date: 2004-10-02 19:41:40 CEST

Let me start this email with a disclaimer, because it got a bit long:
There is no need for an elaborate answer. A short pointer to where you
disagree would be sufficient. And then I either learned somethine new
or we can agree to disagree. I only wrote in so much detail, because I
wanted to make my reasoning open (and make it easy for others to point
out what they see different).

On Sat 2004-10-02 at 12:42:38 -0400, Greg Hudson wrote:
> On Sat, 2004-10-02 at 09:50, Benjamin Pflugmann wrote:
> > On Sat 2004-09-25 at 07:58:55 +0100, Max Bowsher wrote:
> > >
> > > Perhaps we should think about categorizing our svn help output, to help
> > > maintain it's readability as we increase the number of commands?
> >
> > Since I pondered about this independently, I thought I'd make a start.
> > The excerpt below is the the output of "svn help" (from the 1.0.1
> > client, but the help output shouldn't have changed too much) with some
> > grouping added by me.
>
> My gut reaction is that as long as our command set remains manageable, a
> simple sorted list is probably better than a categorized list.

Maybe I overlook the obvious, but what's the advantage of a sorted
list here? Would you also prefer an unsorted list to a categorized
one? If not, I don't see what you see in a sorted list and would love
a hit with a cluebat.

Let me elaborate: IMHO, sorting something alphabetically mainly helps
with finding something you know by name (or at least have an idea of
its name).[1] If you have no idea of the name, you have to scan all
items similar to an unsorted list. Admittedly, with the advantage that
sorted lists are a bit easier on the eye.

If we disregard the last bit (and you agree with my description), we
are basically down to an unsorted vs. categorized list. Now, as said,
an unsorted list doesn't speed up your search at all, while a
categorized one at least helps those which are led by the task they
want to accomplish.

And the latter is - which probably comes as no surprise - the way I
use "svn help" the most: Having a strong idea of what I want to
accomplish and scanning the list for possible candidates (e.g. I
regularly forget "svn info" in my box of inspection tools).

> Of course, formal usability testing is the only way to rigorously decide
> this question, and I assume we're not going to get that.

Well, maybe it's just me, but I don't see more use in a sorted than in
an unsorted list. And if others agree that to be true, then it
shouldn't hurt much, if the unsorted list happens to group items by
their functionality.

Ah, and are you opposed to offer both variants (e.g. via "--grouped"
switch)?

Bye,

        Benjamin.

[1] Hm. I just realized that a sorted list is more useful than I said
    above, if you know the name, but need a reminder on how to spell a
    command (e.g. I imagine remembering "resolved" can be tricky). But
    I don't think that use case should influence our entry point to
    the "help system" too much.

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Received on Sat Oct 2 19:41:54 2004

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