taskGNU Astronomy Utilities - Tasks: task #14320, Alternatives for program name...


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task #14320: Alternatives for program name suffix

Submitted by:  Mohammad Akhlaghi <makhlaghi>
Submitted on:  Tue 24 Jan 2017 11:50:20 AM UTC  
Should Start On:  Mon 23 Jan 2017 03:00:00 PM UTC Should be Finished on:  Mon 23 Jan 2017 03:00:00 PM UTC
Category:  All Gnuastro Priority:  5 - Normal
Item Group:  Enhancement Status:  Postponed
Privacy:  Public Percent Complete:  0%
Assigned to:  None Open/Closed:  Open
Effort:  0.00

Tue 24 Jan 2017 06:17:06 PM UTC, comment #4: 

Thanks Lee, very interesting argument! Can you believe I had never thought about the fact that `ast' and TAB can be typed with one hand! Maybe it goes back to the experience of the evaluation committee! `gap' and `gau' both need two hands! That was interesting ...

This was a pretty convincing argument, but let's leave the task as open until the 0.3 release, maybe prefixes better than `ast' might be found/suggested, if not we'll just stick to the `ast'.

Mohammad Akhlaghi <makhlaghi>
Project Administrator
Tue 24 Jan 2017 05:42:38 PM UTC, comment #3: 

My own sense is to favour the current 'ast' prefix over the proposed 'gap-' prefix.

I find 'ast' to be short, simple, and the beginning of a memorable and meaningful word (astronomy) rather than a perhaps forgettable acronym. I understand that the term 'utilities' has come to mean something different within the Gnuastro code, however, to the end-user I suspect this distinction will largely remain undiscovered. I think therefore that it would come across as unusual that the acronym for software from the GNU Astronomy Utilities (GAU) package is GAP.

A perhaps more trivial reason to retain 'ast' is that it can easily be typed on the command line, and tab completed, all with one hand! This probably makes it easier and quicker to type, but an expert in ergonomics is better placed to fully answer that one!

On the topic of whether or not to add a dash to improve legibility, my own sense again is to favour the current approach with no dash. Thinking on this, I can't think of any command line software that I regularly use which has a dash in the name. I think there's a good design reason for this, most likely because it's an extra superfluous character which merely increases typing time. Or perhaps to avoid confusion with the --argument syntax which typically follows the invocation of a program on the command line.

I do however fully support the removal of extra words from program names, e.g., astimgwarp to astwarp.

Lee Kelvin <leeskelvin>
Project Member
Tue 24 Jan 2017 05:10:02 PM UTC, comment #2: 

In short, to help the user in managing all the executables in their system. So for example when you want Gnuastro's executables, you just type this on the command-line and you get the whole list:


Afew other executables might be in the list, but most will be part of Gnuastro. A thorough discussion along with how you can change it on your own system (not recommended!) is given in the "Executable names" section of the book.

Mohammad Akhlaghi <makhlaghi>
Project Administrator
Tue 24 Jan 2017 04:10:11 PM UTC, comment #1: 

As a newcomer here, may I ask for a brief overview of what the rationale was behind the suggestion from the GNU Evaluation Committee to prefix all Gnuastro programs with 'ast'?

Lee Kelvin

Lee Kelvin <leeskelvin>
Project Member
Tue 24 Jan 2017 11:50:20 AM UTC, original submission:  

The `ast' prefix to all Gnuastro's programs was defined as one of the great suggestions by the GNU Evaluation Committee and has remained since then.

Afterwords, thanks to the great suggestion and very hard work by Mosè in task #13765 to set a unified naming convention for the library functions, we have adopted a different prefix style for the libraries: all libraries begin with a `gal_' prefix, short for "GNU Astronomy Library".

Since adopting `gal_' for the libraries, the general name "Utilities" is taken to mean both "Programs" and "Libraries". Based on this distinction, I wanted to see what everyone here thinks about changing the suffix to all programs from `ast' to `gap-' (for "GNU Astronomy Program(s)").

Besides the suffix letters, I also feel a dash can be useful in readability, for example `gap-crop' (possible future name for the existing `astimgcrop', also see task #14301) is much more clear than `gapcrop'.

Besides being the name of a multi-national corporation, GAP is also the name of Groups, Algorithms, Programming (a System for Computational Discrete Algebra), it is an interactive environment, with only the `gap' executable. GIMP also has a GAP utility, but apparently it is only GUI. So the name is not un-common. But we won't be using it as a pure name, it is only a prefix.

So I wanted to put this idea out and see what you guys think? Is the existing `ast' (without a hyphen/dash) good? Should we just add a hyphen/dash? Do you have any better suggestions?

It would be great if we can come up with a good decision before the 0.3 release, so please share any thoughts here as a brainstorm ;-)...

Mohammad Akhlaghi <makhlaghi>
Project Administrator


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