General usefulness of option descriptions

Doug Barton dougb at
Sun Oct 7 19:34:51 UTC 2012

First, it was totally inappropriate for eadler to change your option
descriptions. I've fixed it for you.

More below.

On 10/07/2012 06:24, Michael Gmelin wrote:
> Hi,
> This probably has been discussed before, but I think in many cases
> using the default descriptions of OptionsNG is more harm than good.

Absolutely correct. I can see *some* value in using standard
descriptions when they are appropriate. But when these "standard
descriptions" were first proposed I had two concerns, one that users
would be bullied into using them (check), and two that they would be
used in preference to better descriptions (check).

> I converted security/libpreludedb to OptionsNG yesterday and
> left in most of the descriptions and therefore overrode them. I did
> that for a good reason, since I believe that the description of the
> option should be more than just repeating the option name.
> Unfortunately the portmgr

FYI, eadler is just a committer. 'portmgr' is a different category.

> One could argue that if a different description is necessary, a
> different option name should be chosen. But this doesn't really work,
> since the meaning to the ports tree in fact *is* that a dependency to
> Perl or MySQL should be introduced, so using the global option names
> makes sense. If one wants to install all ports with their Perl or MySQL
> features enabled, just flipping that one switch should do it, regardless
> of the exact meaning in the context of the port.

You are correct.

> 3. Global option descriptions seem inconsistent as well (all kinds
>    exist like support/backend/bindings etc., probably depending on the
>    first port that used them) and to make matters worse, they're
>    actually changing, e.g. from 2012/08/31 said:
>    MYSQL_DESC?= MySQL backend
>    While the one from 2012/10/07 says:
>    MYSQL_DESC?= MySQL database
>    So even if using the default was contextually correct at some point,
>    it could just be changed without the maintainer noticing it.

Again, correct.

Excellent post, very well said on all points, I just picked particular
ones that I wanted to emphasize.



    I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do
    something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what
    I can do.
			-- Edward Everett Hale, (1822 - 1909)

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