[24079] trunk/base/src/pextlib1.0/find.c

Jordan K. Hubbard jkh at brierdr.com
Mon Apr 16 02:35:53 PDT 2007

On Apr 16, 2007, at 2:09 AM, Kevin Ballard wrote:

> The users of the original find command was, well, nobody. The few  
> times I considered using it, I shied away as well. Why? Because I  
> didn't want to add dependencies on the API when it was, frankly,  
> pretty bad. It set a global variable (yes, not even local to the  
> calling procedure, but global) called _filename.

I'm not defending making the _filename var a fixed global - I even  
said in the previous threads on this topic that this was a clear and  
obvious shortcoming that needed fixing (which is also why I raised no  
complaint whatsoever about this aspect of the change).

> I'm also confused as to your complaint about it executing the body  
> every time. With your original implementation, it executed the match  
> every time, and every time it succeeded (most of the time, as it  
> defaulted to "expr 1") it would then execute the body (which  
> defaulted to printing the file, though I'm not sure why as any  
> practical usage of the command doesn't want to print the result).

The fact that { 1 } and { print $_filename } are the defaults  
shouldn't be taken as an indication that we don't need a flexible  
API.  You can type "find ." and get useful results at the shell, too,  
but no one argues that find(1)'s other options should be deprecated  
since that's all one would ever want to do with it.   I do a lot of  
things with find(1) that don't print the result - they manipulate the  
filenames found silently and move on.

I'm also hardly defending the original find API as perfect - never  
said it was.   However, like xinstall, I think it's a worthwhile goal  
to make it follow in the footsteps of its command-line analog so as to  
ease the process of people coming up to speed with it.   It's not  
going to be identical, naturally, since Tcl is a "real language"  
unlike /bin/sh and there are more powerful things you can do with it,  
but it should at least follow the POLA as much as it can.  I'm still  
waiting for some usage examples which demonstrate how this is a marked  

> In any case, the standard usage for something like this is to  
> traverse a filesystem and perform some action on each file that  
> matches the criteria. The new find command is intended specifically  
> for this. It's basically a foreach on a recursive glob. A  
> theoretical usage might look as follows:
> find src file {
>     switch -glob $file {
>         .svn -
>         CVS  { continue }
>         *.o  { file delete $file }
>     }
> }

And maybe it's just me, but I would find this to be far more readable  
(and concise):

find file src {string match *.o $file} {file delete $file}

Note that I'm also talking about "general case" usage here, where the  
user is really trying to accomplish a simple and straight-forward job  
in one line without too much knowledge of the internals of find's  
recursion behavior, something I think you'll find to be true in the  
majority of usage scenarios rather than the converse.   Is that one  
line equivalent to your script?   No, because as you note, we don't  
short-circuit recursion in the .svn or CVS cases, but I also think  
your example is just a wee bit contrived given that most folks will be  
using this primitive to do operations in $destroot and not checked-out  
trees of source where this kind of short-circuit behavior is typical  
or even important.  Still, if you were to allow multiple expr/body  
pairs, I suppose you could always do it like this:

find file src {regex .svn|CVS $file} {return 1} {string match *.o  
$file} {file delete $file}

Where "return 1" could have the special case meaning of "don't  
recurse."   Again, however, I don't see this as the typical usage  
case, just as people don't typically use find(1) with 11 predicates  
and parenthesized sub-expressions even though that's technically  
possible.  They use maybe one predicate and a fairly typical action,  
like -exec rm {} or print.   That's the usage case I was trying to  
optimize for in my version and while I don't think I necessarily did  
the best job, I think you've gotten further away, not closer, to the  
goal of making it really simple for the majority of intended usage  

- Jordan

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