[darcs-users] what about removing the unrevert command?

Eric Kow kowey at darcs.net
Mon Apr 4 12:28:24 UTC 2011


On Mon, Apr 04, 2011 at 11:40:43 +0100, Miles Gould wrote:
> 1) I don't think I've ever used "darcs unrevert".
> 2) I do, on the other hand, use "git stash" A LOT. It was one of the
> features that caused my last team to adopt git. If it had been clear to
> me that revert/unrevert could be used to implement "darcs stash", I'd
> probably have used them for that purpose.

Thanks for the feedback!  I ♥ git stash too and would probably use it if
Darcs had such a feature.

Aside from the conflicting principles we're juggling, we have the
problem of trading off between user types.

> 4) My least favourite thing about darcs is its chattiness. Removing
> a "do you want to do this?" prompt is IMHO a win.

I agree.  I hate the unrevert prompt too and I applaud any thinking
that would lead to it going away.

I also think that these qualities are desirable

* you can undo the revert operation
* no need to anticipate wanting to undo that revert operation
* no need to remember where you saved your revert work
* simple retrieval mechanism
* no need to remember special incantations (symmetry helps)

So what I think we should really do is ask ourselves why the "this will
make unrevert impossible" confirmation prompt exists, and how we can
kill that prompt.

We've seen four ideas so far:

1. status quo
2. revert -O
3. .bak files
4. git stash/unstash
5. _darcs/trash (Ganesh on IRC)

I'm not entirely against #4; I could see how it's actually quite
compatible with these goals.

I'm little bit worried about the stash stack.  Is it too sophisticated?
Even for non-newbies, does it impose any extra cognitive/memory work
along the lines of "which stash do I recover and how?" or would we all
just tend to push/pop anyway?

Does anybody have any other ideas?

> 3) darcs' proliferation of undo commands is confusing to newbies.
> Speaking of which, I note that unrevert gets only a cursory mention on
> http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Understanding_Darcs/Undoing_mistakes

Good. Thanks for pointing this out.

My complaint is that we are all speaking from our expert perspectives
which is not entirely healthy.

Let's suppose we had the following back-of-the-envelop "personas" [1] to
consider:

 * Jacek - heavy user; maintainer; expert sophistication
           Goals: keep repository history clean, well-structured;
           avoid cruft

 * Steve - regular user; programmer in team; medium/low sophistication
           Goals: be able to save things into version control
           and get them back older versions later on; get back
           to hacking as soon as possible!

 * Adam  - casual user; hobby open source contributor; medium
           sophistication
           Goals: avoid fuss when submitting patches to FooBox open
           source project

 * Mike  - newbie; programming company intern
           Goals: get started quickly, avoid frustration of dealing
           with incomprehensible new tool

I'm making stuff up here (I admire Cooper-style ethnographic research
used to get more informed versions of these), so they may be bogus.
But assuming there is some truth to these, one problem is that the
kind of user who is going to chime in on this list is more likely
going to be a Jacek or maybe a Steve than an Adam or Mike.  Miles has
done a nice job of bringing Steve (his last team) and Mike (newbies
confused by all the undo commands) into the picture.  We need to hear a
bit more about users from the other parts of the spectrum that we care
about.

Maybe I'm worrying over nothing.  You give Adam and Mike git
stash/unstash and they would love it!

-- 
Eric Kow <http://www.nltg.brighton.ac.uk/home/Eric.Kow>
For a faster response, try +44 (0)1273 64 2905 or
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