[darcs-users] Recap: remind user of DARCS_EMAIL?

Eric Kow kowey at darcs.net
Wed Mar 25 10:55:50 UTC 2009

Hi everybody,

This is a summary of the ongoing discussion on how we should modify the
darcs UI for setting author identities, as well as what I think we
should do to move forward.  The iron-fist-on-table policy (sorry) will
be "let's try and see first and then discuss it later in a couple of
weeks if we're still not happy".

Lookup order will remain the same
Keep in mind that the we expect the core darcs behaviour to remain the
the same.  That is, darcs will *continue* to retrieve your author
identity from in this order from:

  1. the --author switch
  2. the interactive prompt in --pipe (3rd party tools)
  3. the _darcs/prefs/author file
  4. the global ~/.darcs/author
  5. the DARCS_EMAIL environment variable
  6. the EMAIL environment variable

Proposals so far
So far, we have discussed the problem of repositories being used by
multiple people (which actually does happen in some folks' workflows),
individuals having multiple identities, minimising surprise (how much
magic are we willing to tolerate?), and the optimal behaviour for the
vast majority of us, people who do not read user manuals.

There have been proposals to

(A) make darcs tell you more things

(B) write to the global ~/.darcs/author and not just the
    repository-local _darcs/prefs/author

(C) modify or add prompts, asking you if you want to write to
    ~/.darcs/author, or asking you if you want to use the value
    from ~/.darcs/author in your _darcs/prefs/author.

There are good reasons for all the proposals.  There are also reasons to
be nervous about (B) [the possibility of naive users getting stuck with
settings they don't want] and (C) prompts getting in people's way.  As
far as I can tell, nobody is objecting to (A).

My preferences
My personal experience is that the current darcs UI with respect to
author identities is slightly broken (for me), because I am constantly
recording patches with the wrong identity (I like to use kowey at darcs.net
for official things, E.Y.Kow at brighton.ac.uk for work things and
eric.kow at gmail.com for non-work, non-darcs things).  I have my
DARCS_EMAIL set to E.Y.Kow at brighton.ac.uk, which is very often the right
setting, but also very often the wrong and frustrating setting.  This
makes me quite fond of the proposal that darcs offer to use your
~/.darcs/author, if it's going to ask you to type in an email address

That said, this discussion was not triggered by the problem above.  This
discussion was mostly about people not knowing they could have a global
author setting, and how we could make this more apparent.  While I would
like to see a UI-tweak to solve my personal problem, I think we should
focus on the initial problem first.

How to move forward
As Eric darcs-user, I would personally like to have some variant of (C).
HOWEVER, as Eric darcs-maintainer, I will reject patches for both (B)
and (C) for now.   I don't want us to close off the possibility, but I
think we should first try some variant of (A) and then re-assess the
situation at a later date (e.g. after a month).

So, please submit patches to

- somehow remind you that you can set ~/.darcs/author globally
  or overwrite _darcs/prefs/author locally

- (perhaps) tell which you which author you recorded the patch as
  and where this information comes from

I don't want to stipulate exactly how and where (for example, we could
just modify the prompt we have now; or we could do something more
clever, like remind you at the end of each record if you do not have the
~/.darcs/author set).  Instead I would rather see what specific
solutions you come up with.  Let's just focus on making the UI more
informative first and work out the rest later.


PS: This may be my first go at applying the iron fist. I hope I did it

Eric Kow <http://www.nltg.brighton.ac.uk/home/Eric.Kow>
PGP Key ID: 08AC04F9
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