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[bug-recutils] Recutils - User Feedback

From: John Darrington
Subject: [bug-recutils] Recutils - User Feedback
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2012 06:50:35 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

Having read through the user manual over the last couple of weeks, 
played with recutils a little, and of course attended Jose's 
excellent presentations,  my opinions on Recutils are as follows:

It would seem to be an excellent little tool to (almost) provide the means to
implement small to medium sized databases,  but without the effort of
having to install some clumsy server, or to learn SQL!  I particularly
like the idea of everything being user editable.  Whilst projects like
Postgres and MySQL are terrific, for moderate sized datasets the effort involved
is just not justified.  On the other hand something easier to manage than a 
spreadsheet and more versitile than flat files are often desired. 
Recutils would seem to fill the niche.

However there seem to be some limitations, which I list here in order of
importance (as from my own subjective point of view):

1. Recsel can perform a single join only.

   It would be extremely useful to be able to perform a query joining 3 or more
   record types at once.  Eg:

   recsel -t Thing0 -j ThingA,ThingB -j ThingD file.rec

   My idea here is that ThingA and ThingB are foriegn keys in Thing0, whilst
   ThingD is a foriegn key in the result of the first join.

   I thought I could work around this limitation with something like

   recsel -t Thing0 -j ThingA -d file.rec | recsel -t Thing0_ThingA -j ThingD

   but it seems not.  Maybe it could if the -d flag was a little more 

   This limitation seriously hinders the user's ability to be creative in his 
        (at least if he is to be able to make sensible queries on the data).
2. Recfmt has limited ability.

   For example some kind of conditional syntax would make it a lot more 
   Dear {{$case Gender 'Male')Sir 'Female')Madam}},

   of course there are ways around this problem, but that involves makeing the 
   architecture more complex.

3. Date expressions could be somewhat more flexible.

   For example, the ability to match against only one field in a date.

   # Select all those people who have birthdays in March

   recsel -e "Date-of-Birth >> '01 March *' && Date-of-Birth << '31 March *' 

Of course, one must be careful that "feature creep" doesn't make a monster
out of recutils.   So maybe there are better ways of achieving these things.

What are your ideas?


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