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Issue: DESCRIBE-INTERACTIVE (Version 1)
- To: CL-Cleanup@SAIL.Stanford.EDU
- Subject: Issue: DESCRIBE-INTERACTIVE (Version 1)
- From: Kent M Pitman <KMP@STONY-BROOK.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>
- Date: Mon, 12 Sep 88 14:45 EDT
References: DESCRIBE (p441)
Edit history: 12-Sep-88, Version 1 by Pitman
Status: For Internal Discussion
DESCRIBE is not prohibited from behaving interactively. In some
implementations it is, and in other implementations it is not.
Users of systems in which DESCRIBE is not interactive may presume
that it is safe to call DESCRIBE in a batch applications without
hanging the application, which can lead to problems.
Clarify that DESCRIBE is permitted (though not required) to
require user input, and that such input should be negotiated
[Descriptive information would continue to go to *STANDARD-OUTPUT*.]
The following kind of interaction would be permissible in
implementations which chose to do it:
(DEFVAR *MY-TABLE* (MAKE-HASH-TABLE))
(SETF (GETHASH 'FOO *MY-TABLE*) 1)
(SETF (GETHASH 'BAR *MY-TABLE*) 2)
(SETF (GETHASH 'FOOBAR *MY-TABLE*) 3)
#<EQ-HASH-TABLE 259> has 3 entries.
Do you want to see its contents? (Yes or No) Yes
This implements the status quo.
Symbolics Genera asks some questions interactively when describing
some kinds of structured data structures, such as hash tables.
Since users can define their own DESCRIBE methods and took their cue
from the system, describing some user structures also require such
Cost to Implementors:
Cost to Users:
User code which depended on DESCRIBE running without user interaction
would have to be modified. Such code is not currently fully portable,
Cost of Non-Adoption:
Users would not know the straight story about whether they should
expect interaction from DESCRIBE.
Implementations which don't do interactive querying in DESCRIBE only
because their not 100% sure it's kosher would be free to do it.
Some people might think it's not aesthetic for DESCRIBE to require user
intervention. Not saying whether it's permissible is probably less
Pitman thinks it's important to clarify this issue, but he isn't fussy
about the particulars.
This proposal is the minimal proposal for compatibility with current
behavior. If anyone is adamant about wanting DESCRIBE not to require
user intervention, they might want to circulate a competing proposal
requesting an incompatible change prohibiting current behavior in some