Stop dividing history into conversations?

Ethan Blanton elb at pidgin.im
Wed Feb 13 17:48:57 EST 2008


Mr. Brad spake unto us the following wisdom:
> I know; I don't work on this project, but I am a professional programmer 
> working on very large projects (Guitar Hero), and I have to disagree 
> that splitting a log file serves any useful purpose.

I'm gathering from the below that you're not a Unix person ... it
might help you to appreciate our position if you understand that we
*are* Unix people.  :-)

> To me, the log file should store important events: messages, timestamps, 
> and possibly status changes.  Splitting a log file based on a window 
> event seems arbitrary.  If someone wants to view their logs that way, 
> the window events should be stored in the log file, and it should be an 
> option in the log file viewer to display it in conversations. 
> 
> My log folders are rapidly filling with hundreds of separate files.  Why 
> doesn't each contact have one log file, with an option to view them 
> however the user wants?  Splitting them forces the user to adhere to 
> your standard (each new window is a separate conversation), whereas 
> storing one log file doesn't prevent you from viewing it as 
> conversations - the viewer would just need to split it up at display time.

Splitting logs from one file into multiple files requires parsing,
which is something to be avoided if at all possible.  On the other
hand, concatenating multiple log files into one large file is about as
trivial as a data management task can get.

The one bit out of all of this that is true and valid is that we are
pushing a convention on people.  We happen to think the positives
outweigh the negatives of this convention, for the most part, but in
fact we provided a powerful mechanism to override it nonetheless.

Logging plugins have the power to determine when and where a log file
is divided, if at all; in fact, there have been several projects to
implement logging as writes to a SQL database, even.  (One of these in
particular is likely to work its way into Pidgin proper, sooner or
later.)  It wouldn't take more than a few hours to write a logging
plugin that behaves just as you want it -- and judging by the number
of requests we get for single-file (or other splits) logs, it would be
well-received by other users.

> The message dialog window is also the easiest place to view recent 
> history, so it's quite useful to have more than just the last 
> conversation in there.  My conversation might have ended, but maybe I 
> want to go back and grab that link someone sent me, or maybe I need the 
> shopping list my wife sent earlier in the day.  With the log split, I 
> have to remember what time I got that message.  Why?  I know it came 
> recently, so why can't I just see the recent messages?  I have to search 
> through conversations.

I use 'grep' for this, personally, and it works admirably well.  Once
I have identified the log file in question, I can conveniently view
the whole thing using elinks.

It's pretty well accepted that our log viewing and management
interface could use some work.  ;-)  This is somewhat orthogonal to
file formats, however.

Ethan

-- 
The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
for evils].  They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crimes.
		-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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