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"Semantic" shell? (for lack of better name)

Hi all,

I'd like to work on a method to search for packages based off of
recognized input file formats and recognized output file formats of
the contained program(s). Maybe by MIME-type (RFC 2046), such as:


Here's the list of MIME-type assignments:

However, I am by no means permanently attached to MIME. It would also
be interesting to revise the typical --help message with some
standardized markup for formally specifying which parameters would
prefer what type of information. Typically, when I write my quick
scripts, I just do a few print statements and spit out some text for
help messages, and sometimes clean it up a bit, so to replace that
laziness I'd have to write a tool to make that less of a pain, maybe
throw it in next to autoproject or something.

So, this might just mean an extra file in a package, with two lines,
the first one for input recognized, the second one for types of
output, but this of course isn't a good map for what each parameter
will trigger in terms of output, esp. in programs that change output
dependent on what it discovers about the input. Also, this only really
works for single-program packages, otherwise this needs to be done at
some other level, i.e. a file next to each binary? Is that where this
should go??

Personally this seems kind of an obvious thing to do, but it hasn't
happened yet, so I'm posting to ask specifically--

(1) Has this been proposed before? Can anyone give me names, links,
addresses, or what went wrong?

(2) Anything better than MIME for these purposes?

(3) Search terms other than 'semantic shell', anyone?

(4) What should I be asking?

I've basically written up this email on a site as well-

Happy new year,

- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

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