Monday, January 07, 2008

Rails Metaphor - Pipes

I've been teaching myself Ruby on Rails. Not for any particular reason*, but to learn something new. Now, I am not a programmer, I'm a system administrator. I was, for a few months, employed by the US Marines as a programer (Clipper '87**) where I specialized in writing programs that consumed more memory than a PC had before crashing.

The Marine Corps quickly found me employment as a LAN Admin; at least there, in 1990, we were all new and not knowing what you were doing was not so much a liability as SOP.

So I'm not coming at this as a coder learning a new skill but a stranger from another country learning a new language and a new culture.

So it's all kind of slow going.

In reply to this post Travis wrote
Once you internalize these, and realize that they are - effectively - unix command line pipes, or filters, you stop thinking about itterating, and instead start thinking about piping large blocks of data through filters, or tools.
(insert sound of needle skidding on a record)
realize that they are - effectively - unix command line pipes, or filters,

One is studying something - and it's a bit of a slog - and LO someone comes out of left field comes a comment and it all becomes clear. Not a choir celestial but a certain 'hunh' that turns your viewpoint around a few degrees.

You gain a useful metaphor that enables one to lurch along in the right direction.

I've been using pipes (and filters and tools) to sort large blocks of data for years, in shell scripts. I don't think this is going to make it actually easy but I've got a metaphor now to use that will make plowing through this bit easier on the ol' noggin.

That and thinking about a programming language as a series of tools and filters - just groovier and more complicated versions of awk, sed and the like - makes me want to do a Snoopy Dance.

*Or at least not one I'm willing to talk about yet.
** Which was an extension language and compiler for dBase III.
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