RE: Tools and programming

Subject: RE: Tools and programming
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 10:12:25 -0700

"Lydia Wong" <lydiaw -at- fpoint -dot- com> wrote:

>In other words, now that I have a grasp of my content and tools, and a
>pretty good grasp of the structure of that content, I can ask the questions
>that you touch on in your post, Sandy. I do want to explore options that
>allow me to store my content in a non-proprietary format, and I have
>experience and some time to not be (as!) intimidated when the options entail
>learning some programming and things I've never or seldom heard of like
>DSSSLs and Perl.

There's a lot of truth in what you say.

Still, I can't help thinking that someone like you who wants to
learn more is in the minority. Beginners aren't encouraged to
explore. The very design of the Windows desktop discourages it.
Tools give no indication of what files they affect, the
accompanying docuemtation only touches on the basics, and even
the prompt is hidden beneath several layers of menus.

Not, you understand, that I have anything against a GUI. For much
of my work, I use a desktop and window-manager (although which
ones changes from week to week). However,most GUIs give you only
a limited set of options. As a result, there are some tasks that
are actually harder or take longer to do from a desktop than a
shell.

For example, although basic copying is easy with a drag and drop
interface, from the shell, I can not only copy multiple files,
but, with a single command and a few character's worth of
options, I can not only copy, but also automatically backup files
that are over-written, preserve all the original file
information, include subdirectories, and only over-write older
files. To do the same with most desktops, I would have to do
several operations, and interact with confirmation dialogues.

And notice that I haven't even raised the issues of configuration
or scripting here. You don't need to be a power-user to benefit
from a do-it-yourself attitude, any more than you have to be a
certified mechanic to benefit from knowing a few basic facts
about your car. I've heard of some ridiculous examples of command
line macho, including one well-known magazine that insists that
its writers use vi, but most people tend to the opposite extreme.

The fact is, users of all levels would be vastly helped by
knowing when a command line would make their work easier, yet
they seem to be systematically steered away from this type of
power.

--
Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"They sought in kirk, they sought in hall,
The lady was na' seen,
She's o'er the border and awa'
Wi' Jock o' Hazeldean."
-Sir Walter Scott, "Jock o' Hazeldean"




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