Man Pages Thoughts
duerra at pushitlive.net
Thu Aug 19 19:44:05 UTC 2004
Bill Moran wrote:
>Tom Rhodes <trhodes at FreeBSD.org> wrote:
>>On Thu, 19 Aug 2004 08:50:15 -0400
>>Bill Moran <wmoran at potentialtech.com> wrote:
>>>Anthony Duerr <duerra at pushitlive.net> wrote:
>>>>My thoughts are concerning the man pages. I don't know if this is the
>>>>perfect group to mail this to, but it seems to be as close as I could get.
>>>>Anyway, a thought occured to me this morning when reading through some
>>>>documentation. It would be great to see an "Examples" section in the
>>>>man pages. Often times the prototypes are difficult to read or
>>>>understand because of their length, option depth, etc. An "Examples"
>>>>area in the man pages would allow the man creator to put in a couple of
>>>>the more commonly used prototypes examples in to get a user started on
>>>>the right track.
>>>>Granted, this would mostly be beneficial to newer users like me, but it
>>>>would save quite a bit of frustration when trying to process the vast
>>>>array of different commands in my mind.
>>>>I'm interested in your thoughts!
>>>As already stated, many man pages do contain an examples section. This
>>>section is optional.
>>>If you could point out which man pages are lacking examples, it's likely
>>>that you could get some folks motivated to add an examples section to
>>%find . -name '*.[1-9]' | xargs grep 'EXAMPLES' | wc -l
>>%find . -name '*.[1-9]' | wc -l
>>So basically, you only need to fix 2399 manual pages;
>>1: This counts files in contrib;
>Can't do that.
>>2: Some example sections would be dubious (rc.conf, make.conf, etc);
>Agreed. Many daemons don't need example sections, such as ftpd, etc.
>This was why I recommended he point out the particular man page(s) that
>he thought needed examples.
>>3: Personally, I honestly don't have the time for a project
>> like this. Sorry.
>Oh, come on. You're not doing anything else important ... I'll tell you
>what ... take the time you spend chasing women around and cut it in half.
>You'll still be getting way more sex than me, and you'll have a ton of
>extra time to work on FreeBSD stuff!
Thanks for your replies.
I was actually referring to the man pages in general. Prototypes can
get somewhat confusing rather easily if you're not well versed. Here's
the prototype from scp:
scp [-pqrvBC1246] [-F ssh_config] [-S program] [-P port] [-c cipher]
[-i identity_file] [-l limit] [-o ssh_option] [[user@]host1:]file1
Now, this one isn't really that bad. After you figure it out, it makes
complete sense. Sometimes the sub-options ( [[[ ]]]) can get rather
deep, though, and start to become really confusing (especially for
lesser experienced users like myself).
I realize that changing all the man pages is not going to happen. I
don't see a particular need for them to all be sludged through, but
rather when the man pages are updated, something like that could be
added as well. In the case of scp, something like this:
scp -r username at remotehost.com: /path/to/local/dir/
/path/to/remote/dir /* This recursively copies a local directory to a
remote directory using the current user */
scp username at remotehost.com: /a/file.txt /remote/directory/file.txt /*
This copies local file "file.txt" to /remote/directory/file.txt */
Now, the example above isn't exactly flawless, but you get the idea.
And yes, I do realize that this wouldn't be necessary for all man
pages. It would be useful for many applications, however.
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