[darcs-users] darcs-2 help behavior

Dan Pascu dan at ag-projects.com
Fri Oct 3 11:58:07 UTC 2008

When I use darcs --help with darcs 2.x, I noticed that it automatically 
pipes output to the pager. I guess this was introduced to allow for an 
easier navigation of the help text, however from a usability point of 
view this is a setback as it introduces more annoyances than it helps. 
Scrolling back to see the output was not an issue even before (in Linux 
I used Shift-PgUp, Shift-PgDown to go through the text if it was not 
contained completely in the terminal window. I guess there are similar 
ways in other operating systems). One could even pipe the output to a 
pager if needed.

Now, one of the uses of --help is to recall some forgotten options or to 
find out new options that apply to a given command. As it was, the help 
output was still on the screen, even after darcs --help was done. I 
could easily scroll up/down and paste the necessary arguments in the 
command I was typing. With the new behavior, after I quit the pager, the 
help text is gone. If I need to lookup more options this way, I need to 
remember them all because once I close the pager they are no longer 
visible. While typing them in the command line, if for some reason I 
forgot one or I still need to consult the help output I can't do it and 
I have to erase the whole command and type darcs --help again, consult 
the output, memorize all the stuff and then go back to type the command 
all over again.

IMO, from a usability point of view this is more cumbersome and 
annoying, with no extra added benefit. The previous behavior could 
easily emulate the current one by piping the output to a pager if 
needed, while the current one doesn't seem to be able to emulate the old 
one because it seems the pager cannot be disabled, or I could not find a 
way to do it.

Can someone please enlighten me if there is a way to disable the pager, 
or if not could this behavior be revisited and if not reverted, at least 
provide a way to disable it?


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