[clug] Linux Resources
sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Mon Aug 5 13:49:11 UTC 2019
Mike Lesk, now at Rutgers, while at Bell Labs posed exactly this question - and did an elegant experiment investigating it.
I’ve included an extract from a longer email about it at the end.
We are all ‘muggles’ and ‘wizards’ in different contexts - sometimes we have the muscle memory to do things quickly, other times not.
The difference in speed in using commands + options vs an app is significant (say 10x - 100x) - but comes at a high cost - the time to learn, and sometimes unlearn.
f you’re a professional using these tools to ‘do stuff’, it’s worth investing your time in anything that improves your productivity or lessens the cognitive load.
If you’re using tools in a different environment, you’ll optimise on different factors.
But sometimes, all you’ve got available is the command line - so using an App is not an option.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve helped people in these circs - and introduced them to “job control” (ctril-Z) etc.
’screen’ is a far better option these days, if available. I still forget it though :(
> On 5 Aug 2019, at 22:23, George at Clug via linux <linux at lists.samba.org> wrote:
> am guessing you are familiar with this video on vim?
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-ZbrtoSuzw <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-ZbrtoSuzw>
> Found it tonight when watching the URL you posted.
> Maybe I (a simple muggle) would see the advantage of text driven interfaces if I was able to remember all the key commands, but since I find this challenging, Xfce is easier to use than Gnome, Notepad is better than Edlin, Eclipse is better than vim, etc.
> I guess the problem is that when using ssh to connect to a remote server, there are no GUI IDEs you can used to edit your files or code? Please let me know if there is a way to use a GUI IDE to files/code on a remote server via an ssh session?
> http://tmober.blogspot.com/2006/11/remote-system-explorer-10-is-released.html <http://tmober.blogspot.com/2006/11/remote-system-explorer-10-is-released.html>
> https://help.eclipse.org/kepler/index.jsp?topic=%2Forg.eclipse.rse.doc.user%2Fgettingstarted%2Fg_start.html <https://help.eclipse.org/kepler/index.jsp?topic=%2Forg.eclipse.rse.doc.user%2Fgettingstarted%2Fg_start.html>
> I need to learn Eclipse.
> https://www.eclipse.org/community/eclipse_newsletter/2017/june/article1.php <https://www.eclipse.org/community/eclipse_newsletter/2017/june/article1.php>
> (PS: I do accept the reality that vim is a powerful editor for those who really know how to use it)
An elegant piece of research in 1983 (!) by Mike Lesk.
This predated the GUI vs Command Line (CLI) debate.
- Novices/Occasional Users need a result, not speed. Need System help.
- Expert users need speed and precision. These interfaces are complex.
Joel on Software comments on the phenomena.
Lesk quote from ESR's "Art of Unix Programming":
"The commercial world generally goes for the novice mode because
(a) purchase decisions are often made on the basis of 30 seconds trial, and
(b) it minimizes the demands on customer support to have only a
I find many non-Unix systems very frustrating because, for example, they
will provide no way to do something on a hundred or a thousand files; I
want to write a script, and there's no support for it.
The basic problem is that they've assumed all users are novices all the
time, and then they bash Unix because it doesn't cater to that model.”
Rutgers home page.
DBLP - all pubs
Lesk & Geller article:
"User interfaces to information systems: choices vs. commands"
Do users prefer selection from a menu or specification of keywords to
We tried two experiments, one using an on-line library catalog and the
other an on-line news wire.
In the first, library users could either issue keyword commands to see
book catalog entries, or choose categories from a menu following the
Dewey Decimal classification of the books.
In the second, news wire users could read Associated Press news stories
either by posting a keyword profile against which all stories were
matched, or by selecting them from a menu of current news items.
For the library users, keyword searches were clearly preferred, by votes
of 3 and 4 to 1; for the news stories, retrieval by keyword search is
50% less common than menu choice.
We suggest that the difference is based on the degree of user
foreknowledge of the data base and its organization.
Menu-type interfaces tell the user what is available.
If the user already knows, as in the library where a majority of the
users have a particular book in mind, then the menu is merely
But when the user does not know what is available (almost the definition
of "news" is that it is new, and unpredictable), the menu is valuable
because it displays the choice.
Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 38, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
mailto:sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin
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