[spambayes-dev] "X-" as a prefix for experimental options

Mark Hammond mhammond at skippinet.com.au
Sun Nov 23 00:55:40 EST 2003

A problem I see is that the users will have no way of measuring any changes.
The binaries don't come with any of the test tools, and relying on lots of
people giving subjective results doesn't seem useful.

I think we need some kind of better, application based testing framework
first.  The scripts we use now predate all of the applications, and I can
never remember how to run them.  If I could just get a test tool to run
directly over Outlook folders, we would be much closer (for Outlook anyway
<wink>).  This needn't be too hard - just abstracting the test tools a
little so they allow sub-classes to extract the actual message streams for
the test runs.

Ultimately, we end up with a simple way for either Outlook or sb_server to
run tests over the training sets, and report succinct results.  Otherwise, I
doubt anything will change in terms of the number of *users* running tests
(let alone developers <wink>)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: spambayes-dev-bounces at python.org
> [mailto:spambayes-dev-bounces at python.org]On Behalf Of Skip Montanaro
> Sent: Sunday, 23 November 2003 3:40 PM
> To: spambayes-dev at python.org
> Subject: [spambayes-dev] "X-" as a prefix for experimental options
> I think the easiest way for people to play with new options
> is if they are
> in CVS instead of having to apply patches.  Posting context
> diffs doesn't
> seem to be yielding a stampede of testers for several
> (trivial, perhaps)
> recent ideas.  As an alternative, I propose that experimental
> options be
> simply incorporated into CVS with an "X-" prefix on the
> option name (e.g.,
> ["Tokenizer", "X-gateway_machines"]) and that they always be
> off by default.
> This allows a couple things to happen:
>     * They would be more easily available to early adopters
> who might not
>       have the usual facility we've come to expect with cvs
> and patch(1).
>       As the Outlook plugin-using population continues to
> grow, the relative
>       number of cvs-and-patch aficianados will dwindle.
>     * They could documented as experimental and included in a
> SpamBayes
>       release.
>     * User interfaces like sb_server.py or the Outlook plugin could
>       recognize such options and display them in a
> distinctive manner which
>       makes it clear they are experimental, and possibly even solicit
>       feedback on them (particularly if such applications
> could report some
>       relevant statistics where warranted).
>     * Elevating such options to non-experimental status only requires
>       removing the "X-" prefix from that option's use in
> distributed code.
>       Instances of the "X-" prefixed names which remain in
> options files
>       might elicit a warning, but still serve to set the now
>       non-experimental option value.
>     * The options parser could warn (but not fatally) about
> option file
>       settings that have "X-" prefixes which don't correspond
> to actual
>       options.  This way, the code which implements them
> could be ripped out
>       if they are deemed not useful without fear that
> programs which use
>       them will begin to fail, possibly silently in the case of
>       non-interactive use.
> Skip
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