Partially Attended

an irregularly updated blog by Ian Mulvany

If programming is magic, then the old languages are strong

Mon Jul 14, 2008

190 Words

The similarity between magic and programming is never more apparent thanwhen you sit down and watch someone who is truly good on the command line.By virtue of having secret knowledge they can quickly accomplish theapparently impossible. If you start out in the unix world you begin bylearning some simple incantations such as 'cd', 'ls' and 'top' and 'kill'.If you persevere with the art eventually you may master the hidden runesthat bring 'sed' and 'awk' to life.

These sorts of commands work at the very root of the operating system, hardwired into the c++ code that built up the universe in which you are walking.In a way this is the fundamental elemental magic of programming. And what Ifind so pleasant about wandering in this landscape is that findingdocumentation on these building blocks is so easy. They have been around forsuch a long time that much of the documentation was written when blue links,plain text and white backgrounds were not just a style issue for html, therewas simply no better way to do it back then.

I often think that there is still no better way to do it.

tags: programming, magic

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