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RE: Unix philosophy under the gun?

From: Ralph Mack
Subject: RE: Unix philosophy under the gun?
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 00:22:44 -0400

> No, I just believe in building tools that can work together and that
> each do one job to the best of their ability....  If you want a tool
> that slices and chops, but not dices, then you can write a little
> program that hooks a slicing tool and a chopping tool together in the
> way you find most desirable.  
> Please see:  "UNIX Style, or cat -v Considered Harmful", by Rob Pike;


This requires you to take the time out from being a tool user to 
becoming a toolsmith, no? It means you have to take the time to become
facile in the "glue" languages for your environment so you can whip 
things together as needed. 

Most of the developers that I know who take this approach are 
the kind who are rabid about their craft and pack an Automake manual 
in their baggage for a beach trip. The developers who write solid 
code from 8-5 and then go home to immerse themselves in their families, 
forgetting they know anything about programming until they get to work 
in the morning, simply don't have time or the interest. 

I am rabid, but I can't seriously contemplate a work style that doesn't 
work as well for solid developers who aren't rabid. When I move on, as 
all developers must every few years, someone will need to maintain 
whatever I leave behind. I owe it to them to ensure that any mechanism 
I use has a negligible learning curve. The point is actually rather moot - 
there is no time to build such things anyway. It requires 120% of my 
available time just to meet my current P1 commitments.

The do-it-yourself philosophy common to Unix only works if software 
is your life, not just your job, and if your job affords you time 
to do something that doesn't directly drive aggressive delivery plans 
forward. Since I started in the eBusiness software vendor arena, I 
haven't personally met a professional software developer face to face 
who has the leisure to pursue this kind of approach on their day job.

As it stands today, just about everything that you do with CVS aside
from checkout, update, and commit to head requires a level of study 
and experimentation that is prohibitive for the kind of shops I am 
familiar with. I think I've now been through most of the learning curve
but it took me a couple of months. Training time for busy people is 
measured in minutes or at worst hours.


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