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Re: NEWS.Debian revisited

On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 11:00:13PM -0400, Joey Hess wrote:

> The first time I brought this up the idea was well-received, but bogged
> own a little bit in arguments (mainly from Matt Zimmerman I think) that it
> would be better to keep the news in the changelog and highlight it
> somehow.

My reasons for arguing were basically these:

- by having all of the information in one place, folks who are reading the
  changelog also get the benefit of the NEWS stuff, which is often useful in
  a changelog context as well

- (a selfish one) I wouldn't have to figure out how to appropriately display
  both kinds of information in apt-listchanges

Something like this:

apt-listchanges (2.23) unstable; urgency=low

 NEWS: This version now extracts news items and displays them to the user.
 The new default is to display only these items.  If you want the old
 behaviour back, reconfigure apt-listchanges.

 NEWS: It also has a higher version number than the previous release!

 * implementation details
 * blah
 * blah

 -- Matt Zimmerman <mdz@debian.org>  Thu, 29 May 2003 23:23:49 -0400

Seems natural and logical to me.  The only disadvantage I see is that
multi-paragraph news items could get a little unruly, but IMO a well-written
news blurb is one paragraph long.

> In the meantime, I have added NEWS.Debian files to two of my packages,
> using a format that is a valid debian changelog. Basically, think of a
> typical debian changelog, remove the bullets, and use full paragraphs for
> each news item, separated by blank lines.

If we're going to have a separate file, this is about as easy as it gets,
and I think it's a sane approach.

> I would like to get support into apt-listchanges for displaying those news
> entries. I can think of two useful modes and a variation:
> 1. Display only news items, no changelogs.
> 2. Display changelogs and news items
>    a. List all the new news first, at the top.
>    b. List new news right before a package's changelog entry.
> What to display should be configurable of course. If we decided to make
> apt-listchanges part of the base system, it might be good to change the
> default behavior to 1.

I agree re: option 1; that would be a sane configuration default.

Option 2b works out to pretty much exactly the combined news/changelog
format that I had in mind.  I don't like 2a very much because it spreads out
the information about a single package, such that I would have to navigate
around the output in order to correlate the news with the changelog.

> Matt, do you have strong feelings against separate NEWS.Debian files, or
> would something like this be accepted, if it were done right and you were
> given a patch?

If I am in the minority, I will not hold back the entire NEWS concept just
because of the file format issue, because I want to see this happen.

> I still haven't learned python, but here is a simple implementation of
> 2b.  It does make it twice as slow, but I don't see a good way around
> that anyway.  Maybe someone who can speak python would like to pick up
> on this and implement 1 (easy) and 2a (hard)?

The current mechanism is designed to extract only one file, so the pipe
mechanism works out pretty well.  You could have changed things to call
extract_changelog twice as well.  I think, though, that if apt-listchanges
is to start extracting multiple files, I'd probably want to just extract
them to a temporary directory.  That way, it doesn't have to make more
passes over the .deb, nor would I have to deal with getting them both in a
single stream.

Of course, if the news items are in the changelog, this is a non-issue...

 - mdz

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