Monday, July 27, 2009

The power of text

After spending 4 or 5 years working on servers with decent amounts of data going through them, I've had to do a fair bit of forensic work with saved databases, giant log files, etc. AWK, sed, Groovy, EMACS, and their kin have been my friends. You can use them to distill unstructured text into a structured form for summaries, trending, etc.

I am starting to turn Ober into a console for this type of forensic work. I can see how farsighted Niklaus Wirth was when he made Oberon. This doesn't look to me like a temporary phase in computing. If anything, unstructured text is even more prevalent today than it has been in the past. Google has shown people what you can do with it. We'll see where Ober goes from here.

For the future, I'm planning on adding some more Wily-like features to Ober, like preceding commands with |, <, and >. Here's an update on Ober...

Ober is becoming usable now. Here are the items I checked off of the list from the last post:
  • execute HOME/.oberrc on startup (if it exists)
  • Scala expressions embedded in {...}
  • ctrl-click opens a file. Actually, it tells the namespaces to "surf", so surfing depends on the namespaces your viewer is using
  • fixed redraw bug
I also added some cosmetic commands, like TrackPos, Width, ViewerPos, and Height.

Using the context-sensitive surfing, I made a "data browser" to examine some object databases I use. It was pretty simple, since I could already dump objects and display the guids of the objects they reference, so when you ctrl-click on a guid, it goes to the viewer for that object (or creates it) where it displays the dump of that object. If you type things or mess up the text and you want to redisplay, you just ctrl-click on the viewer name and it refreshes.

Here is the Ober's current source code and here is Ober's current help page.

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