and maintainer of:
I finished reading Neal Stephenson's "In the beginning was the commandline", some time ago, but I never really got around to getting this journal entry out of my head.
His view on Apple was quite an eye-opener and I must admit that I fall into the group of people who regard Apple as innovative and creative.
I do however not completely share his view on GUIs vs. the CLI, yes GUIs are limiting in more than one way and all they do is give you some ways to manipulate data in in a more simplitic manner, but at the same time they often give you an overview of what you are doing.
Forexample I have really come to enjoy these GUI database query tools, like TOAD etc. I do not use toad and I have not used it for some years, but there are plenty of spin-offs out there also for database engines other than Oracle.
These seem to work quite well when you can have a query window and a data window and you can skip back and forth between queries, you have your history visible like in a text editor (which it often is) and you can tweak and change your queries easily, which is not always as easy in a CLI database query tool.
Another place where I find GUIs better is for forms, or flows, it is possible to make nice and informative flows of information collecting forms, like web sites etc. I know this can be done in CLI too, but one hardly sees that anymore and often you do not have the same amount of screen estate in CLI as you have in a web browser.
This also goes for visualisation of complex data structures, here I am thinking about some of all these administrative tools a lot of us are writing using catalyst and ORMs etc.
But I do however hold the opinion that GUIs are not always as productive as CLIs.
I remember when I was working in the 'Ministry of Environement and Energy' here in Denmark. The plan was to move all the economics to Naivision, sorry Navision. For years the users had been using 3270 terminal connects to some mainframe system and believe me, they knew there system and they could navigate it fast, really fast.
There goes my criticism of the CLI forms, my only excuse is that I am of another generation
I did however never see what happened after the transition, since I had left the ministry by then.
My preferred IDE for many years was a Linux workstation running X11 with plenty of terminals, having access to CLI editors, cvs and the multitide of tools bundled with your standard Unix (wc, sort, xargs, cat, find, head, tail).
Things have changed and for development today I am actually using a real IDE. Yes I still have plenty of terminals open, but for coding I use a integrated tool with a graphical debugger (I do also use the CLI debugger Perl offers however). I tend to change development tools based on the size of what I am doing, is it a single script, a prototype or something I tend to use vim. Is it a CPAN distribution or small package of something holding a handfull of files, I use BBEdit. It is a large scale project with many, many files of different sorts and deep, deep directory structures I use Komodo.
The introduction of OS X and the TiBook was what made me burn my bridges in the same sense Neal Stephenson took the leap with (and to) BEOS.
I do wonder what his take on Apple's OS X is???