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Terminology for "revision keywords" and "expansion keywords" [was: [PATCH] #2219 canonicalized keyword and new UUID keyword documentation]

From: Julian Foad <julianfoad_at_btopenworld.com>
Date: 2005-03-21 15:58:28 CET

John Peacock wrote:
> p.s. is anyone else bothered by the fact that both svn:keywords and "revision keywords" (being the aliases HEAD, BASE, etc) share the same term? Is it too late to change the latter to be "revision aliases" instead or something???

> "Revision keywords" are almost nothing like the
> keywords concept that svn:keywords embodies. HEAD /et al/ are aliases
> for certain revision numbers; they share no common behavior with the
> keywords in files (a concept that Subversion inherited from CVS, granted).

(HEAD isn't, by my reckoning, an "alias" for a certain revision number, it's a
special (key) word which means "go and find the number of the head revision
right now, and use the number that you find". I don't think the word "alias"
has that meaning.)

The two types of keyword do share behaviour: they each cause the software to
look up a particular piece of information and replace the keyword with the
information. The important and big difference is in where and how they are
used: in specifying revisions, or in embedding version control information in
files. Those are the two concepts that we need to distinguish. The problem is
that we don't have a _specific_ term for each concept.

I think "Revision keyword" is an adequate term for the concept of identifying
certain revisions mnemonically.

The other concept is in-file expansion of metadata. This feature is activated
by keywords and by a property named "svn:keywords", but neither "keywords" nor
"svn:keywords" is the name of this feature. We need to give it a name (how
about "Insertion of Version Control Data in Working Files,"?) and call it by
its name more often until we have a good concise name for it.

> I'm not that worked up about it, except for the fact that in the index
> of the book, the section "Revisions: Numbers, Keywords, and Dates, Oh
> My!" is given prominent billing in the "Guided Tour," but the
> potentially much more useful information about expanding keywords in
> files is listed somewhat obliquely in "Advanced Topics" under "Special
> Properties."

Expansion of Metadata Inside Text Files should be a topic in its own right,
under "Advanced Topics". Then it should be cross-referenced from "Special
Properties" and from the section for CVS users.

(The feature is potentially useful, but I don't agree that it is "potentially
much more useful". It still belongs under "advanced topics", but not hidden
away as it is now.)

- Julian

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Received on Mon Mar 21 16:23:24 2005

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