I am working on adding support for the describe role syntax as well, as part of this jira.
But there is a problem, the current describe table syntax allows the following -
DESCRIBE t1 key1;
DESCRIBE EXTENDED t1 key1;
In hive, almost all keywords are also identifiers . So "describe role <rolename>" also gets translated to a describe table command with "role" as table name and "<rolename>" as a column.
This is not a documented syntax AFAIK, but we do have .q tests for it and it would break backward compatibility.The documented syntax requires a dot https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/Hive/LanguageManual+DDL#LanguageManualDDL-Describe . Dot became optional with
HIVE-1977 . Since there are tests added as part of the patch that use this format, it looks like the change was intentional.
I will look at syntax alternatives to 'describe role'.