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#32527 - 01/18/15 01:03 AM Continuing discussion on OS X terminology
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: deniro
Re: the above post about moving the Application Support folder. I prefer the following terminololgy. Which do you mean?

1) Hard drive/Library/Application Support
2) Hard drive/Users/myusername/Library/Application Support

Isn't this a clearer way to describe the pathway?

No, it isn't! In the language of UNIX, the leading / is always shorthand for "hard drive", and the ~ is always shorthand for "/Users/myusername"; your way is redundant...a cumbersome attempt to reinvent the language.

The paths I've previously posted mean precisely what I typed, as I just described.

Edit: Since we're talking nomenclature, the convention we use at FTM (I don't know if it's universal.) is to identify locations within an item whose path we've posted is (space)>(space), i.e. /Applications/System Preferences.app > Accounts.


Edited by MacManiac (01/21/15 04:55 PM)
Edit Reason: Moving to Lounge for further discussion....
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#32529 - 01/18/15 04:46 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: artie505]
dkmarsh Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Originally Posted By: artie505
In the language of UNIX, the leading / is always shorthand for "hard drive", and the ~ is always shorthand for "/Users/myusername"; your way is redundant...a cumbersome attempt to reinvent the language.

Actually, the leading / represents the root directory, which is the highest level directory on the boot volume, which in turn is typically an internal hard drive but may also be an external hard drive, a removable disc (floppy, optical, etc.) in an internal or external drive, a flash drive, or a network server.

There's nothing redundant about deniro's preferred representation of the path to the Applications Support folder in the user's Library folder. It is the literal path. Use of the tilde to stand for /Users/myusername is a frequently used shortcut, yes, but drag ~/Library/Application Support into a Terminal window and see what appears.

deniro's not guilty of any reinvention of the language, cumbersome or otherwise.
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#32530 - 01/18/15 07:11 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: dkmarsh]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I think my way is clearer for most people. If you don't like slashes between, I would settle for the greater than sign. I've seen it done that way.

The majority of computer owners don't know what the leading slash means, or the tilde outside of Spanish. Even if your way is correct in your world, it doesn't make sense outside of it. Just my opinion.

The computer industry expects too much of the consumer. Computers, software, and interfaces are still too hard to learn, too counterintuitive. I had to learn, yes learn, how to shut down the computer in Windows. I had to hunt for it. I still have trouble locating my programs, which is not true of the Mac. You want my parents to learn all this stuff, all this terminology? Dad has enough trouble with the garage door opener.

Re: above. I don't know which plist was the culprit. I deleted so many at once. Maybe 20. I was impatient to get the thing fixed.


Edited by deniro (01/18/15 07:19 PM)
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#32531 - 01/19/15 03:45 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: dkmarsh]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Oops! blush (By the time I realized that I had described "/" incorrectly you'd already corrected me.)

But where's the "It's not UNIX!" righteous indignation I once got buried with (most likely with you as point-man) for having posted /Apps/SysPrefs/Accounts?

"Hard drive" (unless it's preceded by /Volumes/) has no more business in a UNIX path than "/Accounts".

And "hard drive/" is redundant in that "hard drive" doesn't add anything to the equation that "/" hasn't already contributed.

     (> ...deniro's preferred representation of the path to the Applications Support folder in the user's Library folder...is the literal path.
     Hard drive/Users/myusername/Library/Application Support is not the literal path to anything in UNIX.)

And both "hard drive/Users/..." and "hard drive/~/..." are cumbersome in that aside from requiring extra typing by the poster, they require extra reading and thought by responders.

PS: Of course "~" resolves to /Users/your short name in Terminal, it's proper UNIX! But take a look at what you get when you type either "hard drive" or "harddrive" into a Terminal window.

Code:
Artie's-MacBook-Pro:~ artie$ ~
-bash: /Users/artie: Is a directory
Artie's-MacBook-Pro:~ artie$ hard drive
-bash: hard: command not found
Artie's-MacBook-Pro:~ artie$ harddrive
-bash: harddrive/: No such file or directory
Artie's-MacBook-Pro:~ artie$ 

(It isn't all that difficult to write a proper UNIX path, but for those challenged by the task, there's MacUpdate.)

Numerous posters, both here and at MFIF, have apologized for their poor English over the years, and I most assuredly don't recall anybody ever having complained about our own properly used language, but if deniro selfishly insists on continuing to post his own brand of pidgin-UNIX, so be it.

But I think it's an affront to those of us who are here to try to make each other's live easier.
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#32532 - 01/19/15 03:52 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: deniro]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> "Re: above. I don't know which plist was the culprit. I deleted so many at once. Maybe 20. I was impatient to get the thing fixed."

Oh, well...not our first missed opportunity (and most likely not our last one). frown
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#32535 - 01/19/15 09:23 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: dkmarsh]
ganbustein Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
To be more precise...

Each user on a Unix system has a home directory, which can be anywhere. OS X typically sets it up as /Users/username for a new ordinary user, but that's just an OS X thing, only the initial default, only for ordinary users, and not carved in stone. It can be changed after the the account is set up, for example to move the home directory to a disk volume with more space and/or more removable than the boot volume.

In a school computer lab (imagine a room full of computers available to students on a first-come first-serve basis), a student's home folder would typically be on a file server, so the student gets the same actual home directory no matter which lab computer they happen to draw that day. (This setup is also the reason for the ByHost subfolder of Preferences. The computers in the lab will probably not be identical, so some preferences, like screen settings, will depend on which computer the student is using at the time. The computer's UUID is used as part of the preference file's name.)

On non-OS X Unix systems, a user's home directory is more likely to be /home/username. (And there's a good chance that /home is on an external disk volume.)

On a default install of OS X, root's home directory is /var/root.

Hoping that every application can correctly figure out where a given user's home directory is would be overly optimistic. Helpfully, the system arranges that the environment variable $HOME is always set to the current user's home directory. ~ is a convenient shortcut for $HOME. ~username expands to the home directory for an arbitrary user who may or may not be the current user.

These "tilde expansions" are the proper way to specify a user's home directory. Writing it out as something like "/Users/username" is not only tedious, it may be flat-out wrong.

Tilde expansions happen only if the ~ is the first character of the path. The example of "hard drive/~/..." is wrong not only because it pre-supposes that there's only one hard drive on the computer, and because "hard drive/..." is the wrong way to specify the boot volume, and because it's cumbersome, but also because the ~ is in the wrong place. It must come first if it's used at all.

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#32543 - 01/21/15 02:40 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: deniro]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> "I think my way is clearer for most people. If you don't like slashes between, I would settle for the greater than sign. I've seen it done that way."

> The computer industry expects too much of the consumer.

You "would settle"?

Gimme a break! It's not a matter of clearer, it's a matter of right or wrong, and anything other than slashes isn't UNIX, it's wrong!

Nobody expects you or anybody else learn UNIX, but when you elected to troubleshoot your issue YOU PUT YOURSELF IN THE POSITION OF NEEDING TO KNOW ITS BASICS, and arguing about them is useless; UNIX isn't subject to your or anybody else's aesthetic sensibilities. (You may as well try to redesign a,b,c... or 1,2,3....) And, to be succinct, why should FTM responders who've been dealing with proper UNIX for years have to deal with your bastardized version simply because you don't like the correct version?

(The > signs you've seen may be those I mentioned above that are used at FTM, possibly elsewhere, to denote items within an app's GUI...beyond its path, i.e. /Applications/System Preferences > Accounts; you've never seen them in a proper UNIX path.)

By the way, you got me curious, so I searched for how to turn a PC off... crazy
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#32548 - 01/21/15 09:49 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: artie505
>By the way, you got me curious, so I searched for how to turn a PC off… crazy

I have always thought a two pound hammer was an effective way to turn off a PC grin

As to path notation, regardless of whether you are using Terminal and entering Unix commands or entering a path in the OS X GUI ~/Library will generally get you to the same location as /Users/shortname/Library (an exception being when the user's home folder is on a network serve) but replacing the / with a greater than (>) in any case will yield an error.

I understand deniro's desire for less formality and structure (and arguably better comprehension for the less technically inclined), but at the present state of the art and given the variety of systems out there that we must connect to and communicate with it simply is not feasible. So if we want to talk intelligibly with one another it we have to rely on mutually agreed upon terminology and standards. The Unix standard, and like it or not OS X is basically a GUI overlay on Unix, uses the slash ( / ) as the node separator in a path, a slash with no prefix is, by definition, the root of the boot drive, and by definition a slash with a tilde prefix ( ~/ ) is the user's home folder. The use of standard nomenclature and standards is often key to understanding.

My personal preferred is to use the standard Unix notation when I am dealing with a file path. I use the greater than separator when describing drilling down through a series of menu options. (I would use a three D top lighted arrowhead character except it does not show up in this forum. frown )
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#32552 - 01/21/15 12:56 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: joemikeb]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I assume there must be people reading these forums who are interested more in clarity than in proper Unix terminology. So long as they know the difference.
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#32556 - 01/21/15 02:23 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: deniro]
ganbustein Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: deniro
I assume there must be people reading these forums who are interested more in clarity than in proper Unix terminology. So long as they know the difference.


A very important aspect of clarity is accuracy. If you tell a user to look for something in library > app support they'll come back and say they can't find it. When they do, it'll be your fault, because you gave them inaccurate information. Inaccurate is ipso facto unclear.

If I tell them to look in ~/Library/"Application Support", they may still not find it, but at least they won't have to autocorrect my input as well as their understanding. They won't have to wonder whether "app support" is supposed to be "Application Support" but you decided to save yourself a few keystrokes, thinking that it's so clear in your mind what you meant that it must be clear in their mind as well.

The fewer parts of your message they have to guess the meaning of, the better the odds of a successful communication. Don't expect your reader to read your mind. All they can read are the words you write. Write what you mean. As the saying goes: if you can't say what you mean, then you can't mean what you say.

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#32557 - 01/21/15 02:35 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: ganbustein]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Few people are going to understand library > app support or ~/Library/"Application Support when they see it.

But if they see "hard drive" they can look at the screen and see a hard drive icon, usually called Macintosh HD. If they click on that then, but not before, they can see a folder called Library. I'm fairly sure that it would make more sense to people if you wrote: Macintosh HD>Library or Hard Drive>Library.

I don't want to make a big deal of this. Even David Pogue, a writer I greatly admire, makes the reader learn the Unix pathway terminology in his Missing Manual books. He's right, and I had to learn it just like everyone else. I would like to see, in general, computers and software become easier to use, to demand less of the user who has little time or desire to learn what is required. It ought to be obvious and easy, requiring as little thought as possible, if you are going to make "a computer for the rest of us."


Edited by deniro (01/21/15 02:37 PM)
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#32560 - 01/21/15 03:40 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: artie505]
dkmarsh Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Quote:
Gimme a break! It's not a matter of clearer, it's a matter of right or wrong, and anything other than slashes isn't UNIX, it's wrong!

I have to point out here that a Macintosh is not only a UNIX machine, and slash-delimited paths are not the only way to refer to the way files on a Mac are organized.

For example, run the following one-liner in Terminal:

Code:
osascript -e "path to application support folder from user domain as Unicode text"


You'll see that the result differs from the format preferred by deniro solely in that the file path is delimited by colons rather than by slashes. Yes, the colon-delimited file path is a holdover from pre-OS X versions of the Mac OS, kept around to avoid having to rewrite things like AppleScript from the ground up, but the point is that deniro's construction is an entirely logical taxonomy.

Does it allow for home folders in a location other than the default? No. But I'll wager that the number of Mac users who find the distinction between /Library and ~/Library overly subtle and yet have moved their home folders out of /Users is vanishingly small.

I agree that acceptance of a single, standardized way of describing the locations of objects in the filesystem promotes clarity in theory. But to castigate one who finds a reference, made using this standard, unclear as "selfish" is absurd. One could just as legitimately find the person who takes offense at the violation of the standard rather than appreciating the need to find a clearer reference "selfish."

The purpose of language is to facilitate communication. The distinction between /Library and ~/Library has tripped up many an FTM poster and many an MFI poster before them. To me, that's an indication that there's a valid basis for folks to question the use of language that tripped them up.

If we want to insist that people employ ~/username when referring to their home folders on the command line, that's one thing. To insist on it in verbal discussions of GUI navigation is another. Frankly, I find your habitual references to System Preferences as /Apps/SysPrefs to be at least as much of a violation of accuracy as anything posted by deniro.
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#32562 - 01/21/15 05:13 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: dkmarsh]
MacManiac Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Paradise....on the central Ore...
This discussion has been removed from the Networking forum (THIS THREAD) as it was no longer relevant to the issue which had already been resolved.....
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#32573 - 01/23/15 12:23 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: dkmarsh]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
What I found selfish was deniro's stubborn insistence on doing it his way rather than the accepted way, not his stubbornness about lack of clarity, and that was clear.

I agree that computers should be as approachable as possible, but I don't think the degree of simplicity deniro expects extends to troubleshooting, which is a level up from ordinary computer usage; when you approach a group of "experts" all of whom speak the same language, it isn't out of line to ask you to deal with it, particularly when it's as simple as UNIX paths. Nobody will ever call you stupid or refuse to accommodate you if you can't.

I agree about the ~ being unclear and I'm going to stop using it despite the fact that the clear way is cumbersome. (I've never been particularly fond of the ~ as opposed to its literal meaning, but my "path to clipboard" app got me into lazy mode.)

> I find your habitual references to System Preferences as /Apps/SysPrefs to be at least as much of a violation of accuracy as anything posted by deniro.

ganbustein (regardless of whether it was or wasn't me to whom he was referring) beat you to that by a bit more than an hour.

I plead guilty and will no longer do it. When I think about how irritating I find all the acronyms posted around here (Not everybody texts and tweets.), it bothers me that I was doing a similar thing. (Edit: And I hope other offenders take note.)


Edited by artie505 (01/23/15 01:16 AM)
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#32574 - 01/23/15 05:49 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: ganbustein]
dkmarsh Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Originally Posted By: ganbustein
If you tell a user to look for something in library > app support they'll come back and say they can't find it...

...If I tell them to look in ~/Library/"Application Support", they may still not find it, but at least they won't have to autocorrect my input as well as their understanding.

I think you're overlooking something, however. If I tell a user to look for something in Hard Drive > Users > Username > Library > Application Support, telling them to substitute their own hard drive and user names for the italicized entries, I am in fact providing an accurate description of its location within the filesystem. Want proof? Just navigate to that location in a Finder window with the Path Bar enabled. On my machine, I see this.

Obviously an arrow-delineated path will be regarded as gibberish by Terminal or Finder's Go menu -> Go to Folder… command, but I think we're mistaken if we think everyone who seeks our help brings a formal understanding of path to the discussion. A path is a kind of flat abstraction of a visible location in GUI space; the latter is one of the factors which allowed so many folks to be comfortable with Macs in the first place, and it's what a lot of them understand.

In the visual space navigated using Finder (more so in the pre-OS X world, perhaps, but still very much the case for many users now), the arrow-delineated navigational instruction I provided an example of above is the very picture of clarity. It just isn't an instruction that the operating system itself understands.

In deniro's case, it might have been just as useful to accept the obvious logical clarity of his preferred taxonomy, and simply point out that the slashes should be replaced with arrows to avoid confusion with the UNIX filepath that the slashes imply.
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#32585 - 01/23/15 05:20 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: dkmarsh]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Y'know, the essence of deniro's argument is really prefixing paths to identify their starting points as "your hard drive"; the arrows thing is separate.

(space)>(space) is certainly more visually pleasing than /, but I think / is a clear enough indication of a path that it doesn't need fixing.

And if / is replaced with (space)>(space), we'll need a new convention for when we get into an app's GUI, or is that aspect of UNIX going to go by the boards?

I wouldn't be at all averse to posting paths such as (Your hard drive)/Users/your short name/Library/Preferences (Edit: although, based on past experience, I think it's unnecessary), and I think that should satisfy deniro.

Edit: I think ~ presents a bigger clarity problem.


Edited by artie505 (01/23/15 11:34 PM)
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#32592 - 01/24/15 12:32 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: artie505]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Put yourself in the shoes of seniors. When one of my Mom's friends was first learning to use the mouse, she wanted to move the cursor more than the table space would allow, so she started running the mouse up her arm.

They all laughed about it, but you see that many things we take for granted are not obvious to others.

ETA: I mean no offensive to anyone. I highly respect the intelligence of the people here and I am grateful for all the help I've been given. Free, no less. This is one of the best sites on the internet.


Edited by deniro (01/24/15 12:40 PM)
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#32593 - 01/24/15 02:05 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: deniro]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Well, I never used a computer before I was about 60, and I've dealt with everything FTM and MFIF before it have thrown at me, albeit with a bit of questioning, both smart and dumb, here and there.

I think prefacing paths (Edit: is overkill) and, particularly, not using the ~, which has caused much confusion over the years, is sufficient.

I reject the notion of "troubleshooting for dummies" as an oxymoron.

Edit: Apropos of my earlier post, I had to Google to find out what "ETA" means.


Edited by artie505 (01/24/15 02:28 PM)
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#32595 - 01/24/15 02:34 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: artie505]
MacManiac Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Paradise....on the central Ore...
....and in keeping with the desire for transparency, let me add that I was surprised to find that "ETA" stood for anything other than "Estimated Time of Arrival".

It seems that it also stands for "Edited To Add"......
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#32597 - 01/24/15 02:50 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: MacManiac]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
On second thought... My bad. blush
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#32598 - 01/24/15 03:07 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
Put yourself in the shoes of seniors. When one of my Mom's friends was first learning to use the mouse, she wanted to move the cursor more than the table space would allow, so she started running the mouse up her arm.

They all laughed about it, but you see that many things we take for granted are not obvious to others.

Would you then argue that seniors should not be expected to read and understand new and/or different traffic signs and signals when driving a car? Comprehending traffic signals old and new are a basic skill essential to life in modern culture, but they can be confusing to the uninitiated be they young or old. By the same token understanding file paths and node separators are an essential skill for using computers and probably have the edge on traffic signs as far as international and intercultural recognition and comprehension are concerned.

Denier the environment you appear to be wanting already exists today in iOS 8 on the iPhone and iPad. The basic structure (and notation) is actually there, but it is hidden by iOS. I have frequently observed that OS X and iOS are growing closer and closer with each new update. But so far much of what I do in OS X is not quite there yet on my iOS devices. I am confident that will change and in the not too distant future but we are not there yet. Although my iOS devices are very useful and can replace the vast majority of what I used to have a laptop for they and the apps are not powerful enough — YET. You might want to consider an iPad with a wireless keyboard to replace your computer.
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#32614 - 01/26/15 10:29 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: deniro]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: deniro
Put yourself in the shoes of seniors. When one of my Mom's friends was first learning to use the mouse, she wanted to move the cursor more than the table space would allow, so she started running the mouse up her arm.

They all laughed about it, but you see that many things we take for granted are not obvious to others.

ETA: I mean no offensive to anyone. I highly respect the intelligence of the people here and I am grateful for all the help I've been given. Free, no less. This is one of the best sites on the internet.


I still laugh to myself when I recall one of the first times my mother was using a mouse. The cursor was in the lower right of the screen, the object she wanted to double-click on was in the upper left. I told her to move the mouse until the cursor was over the object. So what does she do? Of course she picks up the mouse and moves it through the air!

Her action was completely reasonable in many respects, just like rolling the mouse up your arm (rather clever, actually). But as joemikeb points out, we must all achieve some level of initiation and familiarity with any new modus operandi.
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#32615 - 01/26/15 11:12 AM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: Ira L]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
I saw a user grab a mouse with the cord FACING HER. Two of us immediately stepped forward and started to say something. "hush!" she says and goes immediately to work getting her report printed out.

So we stare at her in amazement. She's clearly had this conversation before, "I was tossed onto a computer several years ago with no training, 'figure it out' they told me, and this is how I learned to use a mouse."

So how do you possibly use it upside-down like that? Why don't you use it normally now that you know it's upside-down?

"YOU try using it upside-down. that's like me trying to re-learn it right-side-up."

so we spent the next ten minutes trying to use a mouse upside-down. And y'know... she's got a point.
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#32635 - 01/26/15 06:12 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
An interesting though just occurred to me... I wonder how many users have never looked in column view, particularly, or even list view, and have never come face to face with an actual UNIX file path?
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#32637 - 01/26/15 06:29 PM Re: Continuing discussion on OS X terminology [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: artie505
An interesting though just occurred to me... I wonder how many users have never looked in column view, particularly, or even list view, and have never come face to face with an actual UNIX file path?

I would venture a LOT. Maybe a majority. My son always uses List view and my grandson is addicted to icon view. My wife started out with icon view and it took forever for her to figure out that just because she created a file in Word, the file did not have to actually be in a folder labeled Word or that there was any difference between that folder and the application. Once she caught on to a hierarchical data organization existing apart from the application, she readily accepted and started using column view. For each of them their view of preference is the only one that makes sense and while I understand the icon and list views, they drive me crazy. I sometimes use Cover flow in iTunes but other than that to me it is a waste, but I am convinced there are others who wouldn't want to be without it.

The point is Apple provides a rich variety of ways to visualize data structures and between the icon, list, column, and cover flow views most users can find an option that visually matches their way of viewing data. And that works were everyone involved can actually see the displayed data structure. Thinking about it, iOS devices only have the icon view and I can tolerate it there. but it seems to enforce a more simplistic view of data structures.

This still leaves the problem of verbally describing those data structures to someone else. I suppose it would be possible to always show a screenshot of the view, but that would be cumbersome and impractical or perhaps impractically cumbersome. Which brings us back to the need for a commonly accepted notation such as that used in Unix. Deniro has expressed a desire for a less formal notation but that is fraught with the possibility of error and lots of misunderstanding. Any notation must be sufficiently unique that it is unlikely to be confused with other notation schemes and accepted widely enough to communicate accurately with a huge variety of users and ideally directly comprehended by the operating system. Developing that sort of notational system is no small task and takes lots of effort, widely recognized standards, and as a practical matter years of honing and refinement. All of which forces me back to the Unix path notation conventions.


Edited by joemikeb (01/26/15 07:49 PM)
Edit Reason: touch up
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