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Re: Usability issue : "svn switch --relocate" should become "svn switch --relocation"

From: Max Bowsher <maxb_at_ukf.net>
Date: 2005-06-04 13:42:28 CEST

Michel Nolard wrote:
...
> The problem is very easy to understand and I found it while using svn.
> Interface consistency is very important as it helps users to avoid losing
> time by seeking how a command is formated as they know how the other are.
> This relies in part upon grammar. The problem we face here concerns the
> "--relocate" option of "svn switch".
>
> When you type "svn switch", you mean "svn, let's switch" so switch it is
> logical for "switch" to be a verb. Svn is very consistent in this regard
> as
> all svn commands are verbs.

help, info, log, status == nouns

> Now, let's compare the "--relocate" with the
> rest of "svn help switch" :
...
> As you can see, apart "--relocate", all the other options are nouns or
> adjectives+nouns. This is very intuitive as we build our sentence like
> this
> : subject + verb [+ adjective] + noun
> which becomes, in the case of svn :
> svn command --option --small-option

This argument is weak, because the command-verbs do not act on the
option-nouns. If you really want to compare commands to english grammar,
then options are closer in function to adverbs.

> So, to improve svn consistency, I propose to replace "--relocate" by a
> noun.
...
> I hope this helps svn to become more usable :)

I think this would be placing consistency over clarity, and would in fact
make svn _less_ usable.

"--relocate" being a verb very appropriately reflects the fact that a
relocate operation is a whole different kind of operation to a plain switch.
They share a command because there is a certain amount of family resemblence
between the two, but it would not have been entirely out of place to make
"svn relocate" a main command in its own right.

Max.

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Received on Sat Jun 4 13:44:45 2005

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