[tex-live] programs without --version

Justin C. Walker justin at mac.com
Wed Apr 18 09:45:38 CEST 2012

On Apr 17, 2012, at 23:52 , Martin Schröder wrote:

> 2012/4/18 Karl Berry <karl at freefriends.org>:
>> Personally I think it's remarkable how many programs *do* understand
>> --version.  Sometimes even --help.
> For the history books: Why do the web2c/kpathsea-programs like
> pdftex accept long options not only with "--" but also with "-"?

The original Unix style, and programs from earlier systems, used the "-x" style of "flag/switch" notation; I think the Gnu religion favors the "--foo" style.

It may be that the mix, in one program, arises when subsequent generations of maintainers add flags, but don't want to rewrite the argument parsing code (so they leave the old style, and add the new).  In addition, some developers may allow, say, all of "-h", "--h", "-help", and "--help" as an aid to the hapless user, thus letting him get the result he wants without having to try all four variants looking for the precise one that is implemented by the program(mer).


Justin C. Walker, Curmudgeon at Large
Institute for the Absorption of Federal Funds
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb
   voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting
   the vote.

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