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Re: [hackers-il] Comments on "In the beginning there was the command line"

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  • Adi Stav
    ... ...lots of interesting interface talk snipped... First of all, you might be interested in a recent discussion on http://advogato.org about combining the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 13, 2001
      On Tue, Feb 13, 2001 at 04:57:36PM +0200, Chen Shapira wrote:
      > Hi,
      ...lots of interesting interface talk snipped...

      First of all, you might be interested in a recent discussion on
      http://advogato.org about combining the command line and the GUI. Read
      it now (and lend me the book :)

      I thought about that a lot myself. It seems to me (and I'm repeating
      here what is mostly already universally accepted) that we have two
      different approaches here that are not necessarily linked to a command
      line and a GUI. One is the UNIX shell / vi key sequences / LaTeX /
      your favorite programming language; lets call it illinear
      interface. It lets you define and execute actions with almost
      unlimited sophistication, and implicitly adjust the interface as you
      work. The price is that it is not immediately clear how to perform a
      common action, because of the multitude of possibilities. The second
      interface is more like many GUIs, and also like command line menu
      based systems, and very simple CLIs (linear interface). It only has
      limited actions and so it is very clear how to do what, but to perform
      more complex ones you either have to do repeat simple actions
      interactively, or climb the invisible learning curve and customize
      your environment -- write VB scripts or whatever.

      So yeah, I would like to be able to receive hints on how I can
      continue my vi or shell commands while I write them, and I don't care
      much if they involve a GUI as long as they seems natural with the
      environment. Likewise, I would like my drag and drop actions to
      dynamically create new actions and objects for me so that I can
      continue to work more efficiently. I'm not sure how either can be done
      (I have more ideas regarding the first than the second, though) but I
      suspect that if both go far enough they will reach the similar

      Now that reminds me of thoughts I've had when I read about chimps
      learning how to talk in sign language, and the flamewars about the
      definition of a language. The best I could come up with was that you
      could only call a communication system a language when sentences
      consisted of more than one word. For example, you could tell a chimp
      or a person "sit on the chair" and they would understand "sit" and
      "chair" as two words, but also understand the connection between them
      and act accordingly (if they give a damn, that is). But you cannot
      teach that to a dog. A dog can only understand "sit" or "chair" or
      maybe even "sitonthechair" as single words and single sentences
      implying single actions.

      So that's a lot like linear and illinear interfaces. Linear interfaces
      are like dog communications -- simple, effective, but inherently
      limited, while illinear interfaces can be considered languages,
      because commands in them consist of several symbols whose combination
      stand for a new meanings.

      - Adi Stav
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