The Accidental Rubyist

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What is wrong with man pages and –help

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Today most programs have at least 20 command line options, usually much more. A newcomer wishes to run the basic or minimal functionality of a tool/utility without as yet getting into complex usage. However, the “–help” and man pages of ALL programs do not give basic usage.

All options, frequently used ones, as well as rarely used ones, are all clubbed together alphabetically. A new user has to read all these 50 or so options to figure out how to use the program in its most basic way. What are the minimal use cases for a program/tool? What are the values of some of the arguments to be passed?

The mini HOW-TO from should take me through a cycle, a use case, but I am given all the options. So what is recipient – an email id, a user on my system. A HOW-TO is not a help file or reference manual — it should show me how to do certain operations or cases.
Anyway, back to more playing around.

[Edited in Vim using HTML.vim]
Published using by Scott Yang.


Written by totalrecall

August 24, 2008 at 10:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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