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Re: '>;' redirection operator

From: Bill Gradwohl
Subject: Re: '>;' redirection operator
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2011 09:08:31 -0600

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 5:34 PM, Thorsten Glaser <tg+ml@mirbsd.org> wrote:

> People complain about the readability of code enough already, and as
> practice shows, things like [[ have been around and nobody uses them
> anyway (often using just POSIX, but not even knowing – myself included
> – that POSIX sh has $((…))⁺; or even using less-than-POSIX, e.g. in
> autoconf, which means that anything we were to introduce now would not
> be used in the places where it counts anyway, for compatibility).

I'm a professional software developer (operating system internals mostly),
but I have no standing in your group. However, I'd like to provide a hint
as to why features aren't known about or used. I agree that adding new
capabilities would largely be a wasted effort unless the most serious BASH
deficiency is addressed first. It's the documentation - or lack of it
PROPERLY done. Adding features that only your core group knows about might
be "scratching your own itch", but does little to help the average end user
unless its PROPERLY documented.

The man page is written the way Robbie the Robot used to speak in the old
black and white TV days. Short, cryptic and in many cases unintelligible IN
THE DETAILS. Alternatively, one might snicker that some lawyer wrote it to
purposely make it difficult to understand. As with most of the
documentation I've seen in the Linux community, it's awful.

What's documented may indeed be the truth, but its not the whole truth, and
lacks so many of the details, the finer points, as to make what's written
of little value in and of itself. I find myself experimenting
(experimenting - euphemism for wasting lots of valuable time) with test
scripts precisely because the documentation largely just hints at what's

The only people with the expertise to write proper documentation are the
authors / maintainers of the actual code base. Anyone else trying to do
that job without a thorough understanding of what the code actually says,
would be guessing in many cases, and would produce a sub optimum product.
Better perhaps than what is available now, but still not what it could be.

The single largest failing in BASH, and in most of what's available open
source, is the documentation.

Bill Gradwohl

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