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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Musings (or Ramblings) about the Command Line Interface

Whenever I type a command into a command line interface (CLI), I get this strange feeling I cannot really explain.

There's something about a command line interface that's seems so simple yet powerful. CLI is primeval yet advanced. It's raw yet full of flavor.

There's something about a CLI that makes wish we can just strip all the bells or whistles of an OS and just type away in this thing to start our applications (like many moons ago) or technologies.

When I type a command into a prompt, I get a sense of no distractions in doing something.  I'm focused. When I have to document on how to do something by writing a sentence or a paragraph about such and such followed by showing a command, I get a sense of fulfillment as a technical writer.

I feel like I am doing bare-bones technical writing to help transport the readers to whole new worlds. I enjoy this contrast of simple yet powerful from a CLI. One of my favorite things to write goes something like this:

"To do (fill in the blank), type:"

I wish I could just tell others how to perform certain actions by telling them to type a command. Once they're done, I can just write a brief description of the result.

I wish I could just write a document without using taking screenshots, using special tools, or even worrying about fonts. I wish I could just write the words themselves and let the reader see what happens for themself.

I wish I could take this a step further. I wish I could simply write a document using a typewriter. I like the act of typing commands and words without distractions, including a computer. It's a feeling I cannot fully explain.

My guess for this strange feeling is when you type a command, you get an action. Whether it's big or small, you can see the response. Commands are much like words. Words can paint a picture, whether it's grand or minuscule. When the reader read words, the reader responds by picturing an image in their mind. So when a craft a document about commands, you get a simple, yet lovely marriage between the two.

The CLI reminds me of the pattern in Genesis 1.  When God spoke a command, creation responded. As God spoke commands, He took a dark, watery, empty mess morphed it into this beautiful, blue planet full of life we see today. Though we have trashed this planet, Earth's beauty is still there. I just hope someday we can restore what has been trashed and become far better stewards of what God created. As for the CLI, I hope we can use it to help us restore the privacy and control that tech has taken from us.

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