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Author v+python
Recipients bethard, guilherme-pg, v+python
Date 2012-03-07.17:44:00
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Improved documentation would certainly help the situation.

And yes, I understand that optparse simply returned the set of positional parameters without giving them names, types, or groups.  So does getopt, and pretty much all previous art in the arena of command line parsing that I am familiar with.

To successfully replace optparse and other prior art, though, there should be an equivalent, although perhaps improved, functionality in argparse.

This lack of documentation for the idea that the ordered set of all positional parameters is not treated as a sequence certainly slipped under the covers of optparse functionality when I first read about it when optparse was being added to the stdlib.  I had no clue that the specification of positional parameters would do anything other than process the positional parameters sequentially, without being disrupted by intervening optional parameters.  The capabilities for naming, and typing those parameters are nice enhancements, but were not seen as redefining what positional parameters are, from its historical definition.  Is there wording in the PEP that describes such?

Naming and typing and even grouping positional parameters are all nice features... but there should be no undocumented boundaries between positional parameters (or groups of them), and presently there are no documented boundaries, and with prior art there were no boundaries.

Having no boundaries among positional parameters is a capability and expectation that has a long history, and tools ported from prior art to argparse need the capability to preserve command line compatibility.  Hence, I conclude that, unless this was spelled out in the PEP and I missed it, that having such boundaries is a bug, even if your intentions were otherwise, and that the test case I provided should work.

My test was only meant to demonstrate the issue, not to be a particular use case, but there are use cases that would be affected in the same manner as the demonstration.

Regarding your suggested documentation, it is more complete than my suggestion, but "sequence" should probably be replaced by "sequence of adjacent" if that is what is meant, because with positional parameters, the historical perspective is that the sequence of positional parameters may be interrupted by optional parameters, but that makes it no less a sequence.

I believe that the present syntax for parsing positional parameters should be fixed to handle all positional parameters, because of the history of prior art, and that if there is a need, benefit, or demand for treating positional parameters in groups, then that should be documented and created as additional features.

I further cannot figure out how to even parse the additional positional parameters as a separate group, using the current capabilities.  My attempt to do so in failed.
Date User Action Args
2012-03-07 17:44:02v+pythonsetrecipients: + v+python, bethard, guilherme-pg
2012-03-07 17:44:02v+pythonsetmessageid: <>
2012-03-07 17:44:02v+pythonlinkissue14191 messages
2012-03-07 17:44:01v+pythoncreate