Tuesday, June 28, 2005

On Pipes and Combining Commands

"How's the pipe concept coming?" Erik Kastner asked me today. Pipes, in the Unix (and DOS) command-line world, are a means of combining commands together. For example, "find . | xargs grep foo". In YubNub this might take the form of "google jon udell | to_rss _ xargs | text_to_speech".

Now pipes (those "|" symbols) may not be the best way for YubNub to combine commands. Alex Ksikes made this point to me in a recent email. (Alex, by the way, is chock full of intriguing, original ideas for the "web OS"). One suggestion, given to me by Sean O'Hagan, is to enclose subcommands in ${...}. For example: http://amazon.com?keyword=${xpath /bookstore/book http://www.allconsuming.net}

(Somebody please make an xpath command!)

So I'm not yet sure what is the best way to implement combining commands. It may be pipes; it may be another technique. Whatever we do, as I told Erik Kastner, it's gotta be easy to implement and intuitive to use. (And hopefully not take up too many CPU cycles!)

Suggestions welcome!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that most YubNub commands send you to a web page, which has much more than just the information you want.

6/29/2005 8:17 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Anonymous - Yeah, when piping commands around we probably want just a line or two. Perhaps an xpath or screenscrape command would be useful here?

6/29/2005 8:32 PM  

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