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April 26, 2006:
Release 2.0.4 available.

Old news

What is Viewglob?

It's a filesystem visualization add-on for Bash and Zsh... sort-of. The idea is simple but hard to describe simply. Here is an example usage scenario:

You open up a new terminal and start Viewglob. A graphical display appears showing the layout of your current directory ($HOME). It looks a little like a file manager. Back in the shell, you begin typing "cd pictures" - when 'p' is pressed, the display highlights two directories, pictures and packages. As you type the following 'i', packages loses its highlight. Since pictures is the only directory with a highlight, you press TAB to complete the word and press ENTER.
Now the display shows the layout of ~/pictures. You type "du -ch dsc*" to check out a few file sizes, and several files in the display receive a vibrant highlight, as they have been "selected" by the naming glob.
In a second terminal, you ssh into another machine and start Viewglob there. The display immediately updates to show what's going on in the remote shell. If you shuffle back to the first terminal, it automatically updates itself again.

And so on.

What's the point?

Generally people use Unix in a fundamentally different way than, say, Windows. There are desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE which emulate the Windows feel by providing point-and-click folder navigation and whatnot, but I find that for the most part I just juggle between terminals.

Why? Because the command line is truly powerful, allowing for a level of control unreachable with a mouse. Instead of trying to improve on a usage pattern which is divergent from Unix, Viewglob is a small step towards making the shell itself more relevant in a windowing system.

Viewglob is:

  • Convenient. No longer will you compulsively ls after every cd.
  • Reassuring. You can see the potential ramificiations of a command as you type it.
  • Accomodating. Difficult-to-type filenames need no longer be tab-completion guess work.

Viewglob isn't:

  • A file manager. At least, not exactly. Viewglob provides no functionality over and above what you would normally be able to do in a shell - though there is a case to be made that the shell itself is an effective file manager, and Viewglob does make this part a little easier.
  • A replacement for ls. That is a powerful program, and Viewglob's related functionality strives to supersede only its most common use.
$Date: 2006/06/07 01:30:19 $Copyright 2004 Stephen Bach