Friday, October 28, 2005

The command line on steroids with Rails and YAML

Here's a quickie app that I am using to play with YAML as an enhanced command line. Just as the command line is a "power user" interface, this just like a browser and a web server sending XML back and forth. Unlike XML though, YAML is very concise and results in a fairly natural presentation form. Here is a screenshot:

Now, YAML (and XML) is just a representation of a (static) object structure, so in essence, the user and the web server are communicating with a object structure. This provides a few new benefits:

(1) The yaml layout provides context to the user-server interface.

(2) You can do multiple things at once. The server can essentually ask for verification on multiple tasks, and the user can respond to those tasks _and_ specifies new commands and information to the server at once.

(3) The object structure can be "typed" to specific ruby classes, or it can map simply to hashes, ostructs, arrays, strings, numerics, etc. Using general types allows the user to actually define the object structure through use. This form of interaction is similar to the way tagging is being done to dynamically define "classes of similar things". Here though, we are extending that capability to define richer data types. (Like one might do in code with a language like Lisp.)

In general, I think this is a nice interface to have a "power user" interface that provides stateful and "conversational" form of cummunication between the user and the server.

More to come...


Blogger garrett said...

See Also: Alternatives to the Semantic Web?

And this followup with my comments: Alternatives to the Semantic Web?


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