Command line programs would be less infuriating if the help system wasn't always as user-unfriendly as possible. Like you should *always* be able to do "program -h -x" to get information specifically about x instead of it just spewing a list of 500 commands in no particular order that you have to comb through to find the one you want. That should just be a standard

Also would it kill you to have just a basic little shell script when you run it with no switches that gives you a list of the most commonly used options that you can select by typing in a number? Like come on, that should be trivial

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@matt it was, and now you also have --help and <cmd> help <subcmd> and let's not forget fucking msdos/windows <cmd> /? and whatever VMS's help command was (i think HELP <cmd>) and....

@wohali Every command line program I use supports both -h and --help but none of them seem to have a way to get help about a single command. I always have to just go to the website with the same information so I can ctrl-F.

@matt that stinks.

i always put help in my subcommand stuff but my tools are pretty niche :/

@matt @wohali Ideally you should be able to just look at the manpage.

@grainloom I mean, that's not a huge improvement over just looking it up on the website; it's still interrupting your flow and requiring you to bring up an external resource when you just need a quick answer about one specific function. Plus you can't expect it to be available on every user's system

@matt idk, docs should definitely be installed alongside the binaries. at least IMHO.
only exception is when you wanna save space.

but eg. is pretty pleasant to use and the manpages can be browsed easily in since you can just right-click on references to other manpages.

basically the CLI experience is better in Plan 9 even though it has nothing as complicated as Zsh or Fish. (and plan9port can replicate some of that niceness)

@grainloom I don't know what any of that is but I don't think any of it is available on Windows

@matt plan9port can run in the Linux subsystem, but the principles are OS independent. or at least kernel independent.

@matt @Shufei enso demonstrated how this sorta thing should work pretty well.

the shell should pop up little help boxes as you type, such that if you type


a list of all commands starting with m appears, autocomplete style. type


the common usage should just appear, in a box and changing to more specific help boxes as you type in options.

@matt @Shufei of course i am pretty sure doing anything gui like to make cli’s easier is considered heresy and will never happen

@grainloom @zensaiyuki @matt I’m not even done with that video and I am an instant ACME fanatic. Buh bye, Vim.

@grainloom @zensaiyuki @matt @Shufei

Ever tried #dwm and #dmenu?

I'd say that it match exactly the definition of a #GUI designed to make #CLI easier.

@Shamar @grainloom @matt @Shufei my patience for trying new things has worn fairly thin the last few years, so i’ll refrain from calling your linux thing shitty for now because it wouldn’t be fair. (though it probably is, since most things being shitty is why i am over trying them)

@zensaiyuki @Shamar @grainloom @Shufei I'm not interested in linux stuff but I can't endorse this attitude. I don't have the time/energy/inclination to learn it, but if I did I'm sure it would be fine. Something not being for you doesn't make it shitty.

@matt @Shamar @grainloom @Shufei that’s true but you’ll find pinned to my account a list of tests i have for determining objectively if something is shitty.

@matt @Shamar @grainloom @Shufei being able to endure pain doesn’t mean that something is good for you, and i consider insisting it is good despite measurements and evidence to be a form of noob shaming and gaslighting.

@matt @Shamar @grainloom @Shufei a lot of awful software gets a pass due to users believing they’re just too dumb to figure it out. i find this ethically atrocious and borderline abusive.but i don’t need to resort to emotive language like that to just point out that it stops software from getting better, by preventing useful bug reports. and it prevents bug reports from being usefully analysed when they’re dismissed as pebcak.

@zensaiyuki You have no basis for an opinion about what is or isn't good for me. You know nothing about me. How I use computers is my own business and doesn't harm anyone else. Not interested in anything else you have to say about this.

@matt sorry I hurt your feelings, we can agree to disagree. i find your attitude about this rather harmful and exclusive and I hope you can see that someday. if something works for you and you like it, then fine, i am not taking that away from you by working towards making things better for everyone else.


Uhm... I think that the #mainstream software stack is so shitty that I started to write #Jehanne to fix it.

In the specific case of #dwm and #dmenu, I think they actually #suckless. 🤣

Dmenu in particular is a damn good hack from a GUI and CLI perspective. I customized it so that I don't simply use it as a launcher but as a sort of mini shell that is crafted around my own workflow.

As I grow older, I started to hate those tools that try to impose me a workflow I don't like just because it's perceived as easy by most of people. I prefer simple tools that compose well.

You might object that I already have a shell to do that, but a shell can do much much more and this can make you loose your focus. Sometime less is more.

All this is not to convince you to try dwm and dmenu, really!

But if you are stuck in a primitive and over-complicated #Unix-like operating system (a #Linux, a #BSD or something like that) you might find that SuckLess tools... actually suck less than the rest of the system.

@grainloom @matt @Shufei

@Shamar i think i know of them. so i guess ill try it somehow? i lost the charger for my linux laptop. so i am not sure how.

@Shamar i’ll take your endorsement into consideration the next time i try linux

@68km @matt @zensaiyuki This is essentially what a CJK IME does and I want this. Very much. I have over a dozen little sticky notes all over my DE to try and remember things which I’d forget if I didn’t use for a minute. Using CLI should not be a macho performance of Lisztian memory virtuosity. Put this in a windowshade and it’s my dream terminal.

@Shufei I agree with this completely but as someone who uses plainjane terminals, no graphical enhancements or DE, I'd also like to see it implemented in a way that doesn't require X either. Maybe a hotkey that activates Smart Help hints over the terminal

As it is I have a ~/notes/ folder where I keep stuff that I think I'll need in the future

@zensaiyuki @matt

@68km @matt @zensaiyuki I have cron regularly barf my notepads to txt, too, just in case... My poor old noggin is befuddled enough either method. I deeply agree there needs to be a non-X method. Maybe something bash kludged to tmux: fuzzy greps the input string to pipe the relevant man page?

I’m thinking how to abuse ibus or scim to make an IME based aid since even I can do that, but would need some hacking and sawing for displaying man page help in pop ups. And it’s in the DE, so... 🤷🏽‍♀️

@grainloom Sure, I'd like both to be supported, but if it's one or the other I'd prefer the long one

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