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Re: Is it time to drop ChangeLogs?

From: Christopher Allan Webber
Subject: Re: Is it time to drop ChangeLogs?
Date: Mon, 07 Mar 2016 19:41:07 -0800
User-agent: mu4e 0.9.13; emacs 24.5.1

Stefan Monnier writes:

>> I'd like to open this up to discussion on emacs-devel, so that we hear from
>> our other developers. What do you all think about ChangeLogs, and their value
>> to you in your work on Emacs?
> The ChangeLog format's rules gives a very good baseline for that.
> Even if some of that info seems redundant, the act of describing all the
> parts that are changed, encourages the coder to pay attention to every
> part of the diff she's about to commit.


> My experience (when trying to figure out, years later, why such and such
> line of code was changed in that particular way) is that ChangeLog-style
> details don't always give you the info you want, but at least they tend
> to say *something* about your particular line (because they have to talk
> about every part of the diff), whereas the high level description is
> too often too high-level and hence not detailed enough for that.
>         Stefan

Unlike most others to this list, I am relatively new to ChangeLog style
messages.  I only started making commits with them over the last year,
because of contributing to Guix (and less so to Guile).

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, probably learning towards
positive, but not entirely.  Here's maybe a summary of a lot of the
points I'm seeing raised (and my own conflicted thoughts too):

 - It does seem like there's duplication of data between vc commits and
   ChangeLog files.  So for the most part, just having that data be *in*
   the commit message makes most sense, and thus so does extracting it
   after to produce the ChangeLog.
 - Unless you make a mistake in the commit message of course!  Then I
   don't know what you do.  Nobody in Guix seems too worried about it,
 - ChangeLog style commits did take me a bit to do right, and I did not
   find the GNU Coding Standards easy for me to understand clearly.  So
   initially I mimed the look and feel from other committers in Guix,
   and eventually it began to make sense.  This does seem like an extra
   barrier, but it does seem like the kind of workflow I go through for
   most skills which eventually become intuitive anyway.
 - That said I do think I developed better, cleaner commit message
   hygeine after adopting ChangeLog style commit messages.
 - Though some of it still feels redundant!
 - Prior to this, I mostly used "git log" and vc-annotate to find
   things.  (vc-annotate is awesome, btw.)  Usually it worked just
   great.  Though... when it didn't, it could be a big headache.
   Refactoring of files into other files, or large reindenting of Python
   files for instance, are hard to reason about after those kinds of

So is it worth it?  I don't know!  But those seem like the main points
to me, from my own (relatively newcomer to the format) experiences.

 - Chris

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