Wanted: Help with HELP

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
2-Sep-2008 0:07 GMT

Article #0145
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Even as an advanced programmer, I find the help function extremely useful. Most of the time, it gets me exactly what I need.

When I am unsure of a name, I use the search feature, such as:

>> ? "line"
Found these words:
   deline          native!   Converts string terminators to standard forma...
   enline          native!   Converts standard string terminators to curre...
   linen           tuple!    250.240.230
   new-line        native!   Sets or clears the new-line marker within a b...
   new-line?       native!   Returns the state of the new-line marker with...
   newline         char!     #"^/"

That's quite useful; however, there are a few small things we could do to make help even better. Some of you have made suggestions or made changes over the years... but, I'm not sure where they are posted.

Small improvements that come to mind are:

  • help/all - search the specs, including comments for a match. Now I can search for "convert" and find function like the first two shown above. (I think it would be ok for it to search the molded spec for each function. Not that efficient, but this is a developer feature.)
  • help/type - search for functions that accept a given datatype. For example, help/type string! to show functions that take string arguments. They could be listed by those that take string as a primary argument (in first arg position) and those that take it as a secondary argument.

It would be great if someone could make these additions and submit them via DevBase so we can get them approved and put into R3.

I'm sure there are other help ideas too... but, let's start with these and go from there depending on what we find the most worthwhile.


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