annotate @ 18:e2240a387a84

wrote about history of MH and nmh
date Wed, 24 Feb 2010 18:05:54 +0100
parents ef67aad148f6
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meillo@1 6 .\".nr PI 0
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meillo@0 19 ..
meillo@0 20 .ds [. \ [
meillo@0 21 .ds .] ]
meillo@1 22 .\"----------------------------------------
meillo@0 23 .TL
meillo@6 24 Why the Unix Philosophy still matters
meillo@0 25 .AU
meillo@0 26 markus schnalke <>
meillo@0 27 .AB
meillo@1 28 .ti \n(.iu
meillo@2 29 This paper discusses the importance of the Unix Philosophy in software design.
meillo@0 30 Today, few software designers are aware of these concepts,
meillo@3 31 and thus most modern software is limited and does not make use of software leverage.
meillo@0 32 Knowing and following the tenets of the Unix Philosophy makes software more valuable.
meillo@0 33 .AE
meillo@0 34
meillo@10 35 .\".if t .2C
meillo@2 36
meillo@2 37 .FS
meillo@2 38 .ps -1
meillo@2 39 This paper was prepared for the seminar ``Software Analysis'' at University Ulm.
meillo@2 40 Mentor was professor Schweiggert. 2010-02-05
meillo@2 41 .br
meillo@2 42 You may get this document from my website
meillo@2 43 .CW \s-1
meillo@2 44 .FE
meillo@2 45
meillo@0 46 .NH 1
meillo@0 47 Introduction
meillo@0 48 .LP
meillo@0 49 Building a software is a process from an idea of the purpose of the software
meillo@3 50 to its release.
meillo@0 51 No matter \fIhow\fP the process is run, two things are common:
meillo@0 52 the initial idea and the release.
meillo@9 53 The process in between can be of any shape.
meillo@9 54 The the maintenance work after the release is ignored for the moment.
meillo@1 55 .PP
meillo@0 56 The process of building splits mainly in two parts:
meillo@0 57 the planning of what and how to build, and implementing the plan by writing code.
meillo@3 58 This paper focuses on the planning part \(en the designing of the software.
meillo@3 59 .PP
meillo@3 60 Software design is the plan of how the internals and externals of the software should look like,
meillo@3 61 based on the requirements.
meillo@9 62 This paper discusses the recommendations of the Unix Philosophy about software design.
meillo@3 63 .PP
meillo@3 64 The here discussed ideas can get applied by any development process.
meillo@9 65 The Unix Philosophy does recommend how the software development process should look like,
meillo@3 66 but this shall not be of matter here.
meillo@0 67 Similar, the question of how to write the code is out of focus.
meillo@1 68 .PP
meillo@3 69 The name ``Unix Philosophy'' was already mentioned several times, but it was not explained yet.
meillo@1 70 The Unix Philosophy is the essence of how the Unix operating system and its toolchest was designed.
meillo@3 71 It is no limited set of rules, but what people see to be common to typical Unix software.
meillo@1 72 Several people stated their view on the Unix Philosophy.
meillo@1 73 Best known are:
meillo@1 74 .IP \(bu
meillo@1 75 Doug McIlroy's summary: ``Write programs that do one thing and do it well.''
meillo@1 76 .[
meillo@1 77 %A M. D. McIlroy
meillo@1 78 %A E. N. Pinson
meillo@1 79 %A B. A. Taque
meillo@1 80 %T UNIX Time-Sharing System Forward
meillo@1 81 %J The Bell System Technical Journal
meillo@1 82 %D 1978
meillo@1 83 %V 57
meillo@1 84 %N 6
meillo@1 85 %P 1902
meillo@1 86 .]
meillo@1 87 .IP \(bu
meillo@1 88 Mike Gancarz' book ``The UNIX Philosophy''.
meillo@1 89 .[
meillo@1 90 %A Mike Gancarz
meillo@1 91 %T The UNIX Philosophy
meillo@1 92 %D 1995
meillo@1 93 %I Digital Press
meillo@1 94 .]
meillo@1 95 .IP \(bu
meillo@1 96 Eric S. Raymond's book ``The Art of UNIX Programming''.
meillo@1 97 .[
meillo@1 98 %A Eric S. Raymond
meillo@1 99 %T The Art of UNIX Programming
meillo@1 100 %D 2003
meillo@1 101 %I Addison-Wesley
meillo@2 102 %O .CW \s-1
meillo@1 103 .]
meillo@0 104 .LP
meillo@1 105 These different views on the Unix Philosophy have much in common.
meillo@3 106 Especially, the main concepts are similar for all of them.
meillo@1 107 But there are also points on which they differ.
meillo@1 108 This only underlines what the Unix Philosophy is:
meillo@1 109 A retrospective view on the main concepts of Unix software;
meillo@9 110 especially those that were successful and unique to Unix.
meillo@6 111 .\" really?
meillo@1 112 .PP
meillo@1 113 Before we will have a look at concrete concepts,
meillo@1 114 we discuss why software design is important
meillo@1 115 and what problems bad design introduces.
meillo@0 116
meillo@0 117
meillo@0 118 .NH 1
meillo@6 119 Importance of software design in general
meillo@0 120 .LP
meillo@2 121 Why should we design software at all?
meillo@6 122 It is general knowledge, that even a bad plan is better than no plan.
meillo@6 123 Ignoring software design is programming without a plan.
meillo@6 124 This will lead pretty sure to horrible results.
meillo@2 125 .PP
meillo@6 126 The design of a software is its internal and external shape.
meillo@6 127 The design talked about here has nothing to do with visual appearance.
meillo@6 128 If we see a program as a car, then its color is of no matter.
meillo@6 129 Its design would be the car's size, its shape, the number and position of doors,
meillo@6 130 the ratio of passenger and cargo transport, and so forth.
meillo@2 131 .PP
meillo@6 132 A software's design is about quality properties.
meillo@6 133 Each of the cars may be able to drive from A to B,
meillo@6 134 but it depends on its properties whether it is a good car for passenger transport or not.
meillo@6 135 It also depends on its properties if it is a good choice for a rough mountain area.
meillo@2 136 .PP
meillo@6 137 Requirements to a software are twofold: functional and non-functional.
meillo@6 138 Functional requirements are easier to define and to verify.
meillo@6 139 They are directly the software's functions.
meillo@6 140 Functional requirements are the reason why software gets written.
meillo@6 141 Someone has a problem and needs a tool to solve it.
meillo@6 142 Being able to solve the problem is the main functional requirement.
meillo@6 143 It is the driving force behind all programming effort.
meillo@2 144 .PP
meillo@6 145 On the other hand, there are also non-functional requirements.
meillo@6 146 They are called \fIquality\fP requirements, too.
meillo@6 147 The quality of a software is about properties that are not directly related to
meillo@6 148 the software's basic functions.
meillo@6 149 Quality aspects are about the properties that are overlooked at first sight.
meillo@2 150 .PP
meillo@6 151 Quality is of few matter when the software gets initially built,
meillo@9 152 but it will be of matter in usage and maintenance of the software.
meillo@6 153 A short-sighted might see in developing a software mainly building something up.
meillo@6 154 Reality shows, that building the software the first time is only a small amount
meillo@6 155 of the overall work.
meillo@9 156 Bug fixing, extending, rebuilding of parts \(en short: maintenance work \(en
meillo@6 157 does soon take over the major part of the time spent on a software.
meillo@6 158 Not to forget the usage of the software.
meillo@6 159 These processes are highly influenced by the software's quality.
meillo@6 160 Thus, quality should never be neglected.
meillo@6 161 The problem is that you hardly ``stumble over'' bad quality during the first build,
meillo@6 162 but this is the time when you should care about good quality most.
meillo@6 163 .PP
meillo@6 164 Software design is not about the basic function of a software;
meillo@6 165 this requirement will get satisfied anyway, as it is the main driving force behind the development.
meillo@6 166 Software design is about quality aspects of the software.
meillo@6 167 Good design will lead to good quality, bad design to bad quality.
meillo@6 168 The primary functions of the software will be affected modestly by bad quality,
meillo@6 169 but good quality can provide a lot of additional gain from the software,
meillo@6 170 even at places where one never expected it.
meillo@6 171 .PP
meillo@6 172 The ISO/IEC 9126-1 standard, part 1,
meillo@6 173 .[
meillo@9 174 %I International Organization for Standardization
meillo@6 175 %T ISO Standard 9126: Software Engineering \(en Product Quality, part 1
meillo@6 176 %C Geneve
meillo@6 177 %D 2001
meillo@6 178 .]
meillo@6 179 defines the quality model as consisting out of:
meillo@6 180 .IP \(bu
meillo@6 181 .I Functionality
meillo@6 182 (suitability, accuracy, inter\%operability, security)
meillo@6 183 .IP \(bu
meillo@6 184 .I Reliability
meillo@6 185 (maturity, fault tolerance, recoverability)
meillo@6 186 .IP \(bu
meillo@6 187 .I Usability
meillo@6 188 (understandability, learnability, operability, attractiveness)
meillo@6 189 .IP \(bu
meillo@6 190 .I Efficiency
meillo@9 191 (time behavior, resource utilization)
meillo@6 192 .IP \(bu
meillo@6 193 .I Maintainability
meillo@6 194 (analysability, changeability, stability, testability)
meillo@6 195 .IP \(bu
meillo@6 196 .I Portability
meillo@6 197 (adaptability, installability, co-existence, replaceability)
meillo@6 198 .LP
meillo@6 199 These goals are parts of a software's design.
meillo@6 200 Good design can give these properties to a software,
meillo@6 201 bad designed software will miss them.
meillo@7 202 .PP
meillo@7 203 One further goal of software design is consistency.
meillo@7 204 Consistency eases understanding, working on, and using things.
meillo@7 205 Consistent internals and consistent interfaces to the outside can be provided by good design.
meillo@7 206 .PP
meillo@7 207 We should design software because good design avoids many problems during a software's lifetime.
meillo@7 208 And we should design software because good design can offer much gain,
meillo@7 209 that can be unrelated to the software main intend.
meillo@7 210 Indeed, we should spend much effort into good design to make the software more valuable.
meillo@7 211 The Unix Philosophy shows how to design software well.
meillo@7 212 It offers guidelines to achieve good quality and high gain for the effort spent.
meillo@0 213
meillo@0 214
meillo@0 215 .NH 1
meillo@0 216 The Unix Philosophy
meillo@4 217 .LP
meillo@4 218 The origins of the Unix Philosophy were already introduced.
meillo@8 219 This chapter explains the philosophy, oriented on Gancarz,
meillo@8 220 and shows concrete examples of its application.
meillo@5 221
meillo@16 222 .NH 2
meillo@14 223 Pipes
meillo@4 224 .LP
meillo@4 225 Following are some examples to demonstrate how applied Unix Philosophy feels like.
meillo@4 226 Knowledge of using the Unix shell is assumed.
meillo@4 227 .PP
meillo@4 228 Counting the number of files in the current directory:
meillo@9 229 .DS I 2n
meillo@4 230 .CW
meillo@9 231 .ps -1
meillo@4 232 ls | wc -l
meillo@4 233 .DE
meillo@4 234 The
meillo@4 235 .CW ls
meillo@4 236 command lists all files in the current directory, one per line,
meillo@4 237 and
meillo@4 238 .CW "wc -l
meillo@8 239 counts the number of lines.
meillo@4 240 .PP
meillo@8 241 Counting the number of files that do not contain ``foo'' in their name:
meillo@9 242 .DS I 2n
meillo@4 243 .CW
meillo@9 244 .ps -1
meillo@4 245 ls | grep -v foo | wc -l
meillo@4 246 .DE
meillo@4 247 Here, the list of files is filtered by
meillo@4 248 .CW grep
meillo@4 249 to remove all that contain ``foo''.
meillo@4 250 The rest is the same as in the previous example.
meillo@4 251 .PP
meillo@4 252 Finding the five largest entries in the current directory.
meillo@9 253 .DS I 2n
meillo@4 254 .CW
meillo@9 255 .ps -1
meillo@4 256 du -s * | sort -nr | sed 5q
meillo@4 257 .DE
meillo@4 258 .CW "du -s *
meillo@4 259 returns the recursively summed sizes of all files
meillo@8 260 \(en no matter if they are regular files or directories.
meillo@4 261 .CW "sort -nr
meillo@4 262 sorts the list numerically in reverse order.
meillo@4 263 Finally,
meillo@4 264 .CW "sed 5q
meillo@4 265 quits after it has printed the fifth line.
meillo@4 266 .PP
meillo@4 267 The presented command lines are examples of what Unix people would use
meillo@4 268 to get the desired output.
meillo@4 269 There are also other ways to get the same output.
meillo@4 270 It's a user's decision which way to go.
meillo@14 271 .PP
meillo@8 272 The examples show that many tasks on a Unix system
meillo@4 273 are accomplished by combining several small programs.
meillo@4 274 The connection between the single programs is denoted by the pipe operator `|'.
meillo@4 275 .PP
meillo@4 276 Pipes, and their extensive and easy use, are one of the great
meillo@4 277 achievements of the Unix system.
meillo@4 278 Pipes between programs have been possible in earlier operating systems,
meillo@4 279 but it has never been a so central part of the concept.
meillo@4 280 When, in the early seventies, Doug McIlroy introduced pipes for the
meillo@4 281 Unix system,
meillo@4 282 ``it was this concept and notation for linking several programs together
meillo@4 283 that transformed Unix from a basic file-sharing system to an entirely new way of computing.''
meillo@4 284 .[
meillo@4 285 %T Unix: An Oral History
meillo@5 286 %O .CW \s-1
meillo@4 287 .]
meillo@4 288 .PP
meillo@4 289 Being able to specify pipelines in an easy way is,
meillo@4 290 however, not enough by itself.
meillo@5 291 It is only one half.
meillo@4 292 The other is the design of the programs that are used in the pipeline.
meillo@8 293 They have to interfaces that allows them to be used in such a way.
meillo@5 294
meillo@16 295 .NH 2
meillo@14 296 Interface design
meillo@5 297 .LP
meillo@11 298 Unix is, first of all, simple \(en Everything is a file.
meillo@5 299 Files are sequences of bytes, without any special structure.
meillo@5 300 Programs should be filters, which read a stream of bytes from ``standard input'' (stdin)
meillo@5 301 and write a stream of bytes to ``standard output'' (stdout).
meillo@5 302 .PP
meillo@8 303 If the files \fIare\fP sequences of bytes,
meillo@8 304 and the programs \fIare\fP filters on byte streams,
meillo@11 305 then there is exactly one standardized data interface.
meillo@5 306 Thus it is possible to combine them in any desired way.
meillo@5 307 .PP
meillo@5 308 Even a handful of small programs will yield a large set of combinations,
meillo@5 309 and thus a large set of different functions.
meillo@5 310 This is leverage!
meillo@5 311 If the programs are orthogonal to each other \(en the best case \(en
meillo@5 312 then the set of different functions is greatest.
meillo@5 313 .PP
meillo@11 314 Programs might also have a separate control interface,
meillo@11 315 besides their data interface.
meillo@11 316 The control interface is often called ``user interface'',
meillo@11 317 because it is usually designed to be used by humans.
meillo@11 318 The Unix Philosophy discourages to assume the user to be human.
meillo@11 319 Interactive use of software is slow use of software,
meillo@11 320 because the program waits for user input most of the time.
meillo@11 321 Interactive software requires the user to be in front of the computer
meillo@11 322 all the time.
meillo@11 323 Interactive software occupy the user's attention while they are running.
meillo@11 324 .PP
meillo@11 325 Now we come back to the idea of using several small programs, combined,
meillo@11 326 to have a more specific function.
meillo@11 327 If these single tools would all be interactive,
meillo@11 328 how would the user control them?
meillo@11 329 It is not only a problem to control several programs at once if they run at the same time,
meillo@11 330 it also very inefficient to have to control each of the single programs
meillo@11 331 that are intended to work as one large program.
meillo@11 332 Hence, the Unix Philosophy discourages programs to demand interactive use.
meillo@11 333 The behavior of programs should be defined at invocation.
meillo@11 334 This is done by specifying arguments (``command line switches'') to the program call.
meillo@11 335 Gancarz discusses this topic as ``avoid captive user interfaces''.
meillo@11 336 .[
meillo@11 337 %A Mike Gancarz
meillo@11 338 %T The UNIX Philosophy
meillo@11 339 %I Digital Press
meillo@11 340 %D 1995
meillo@11 341 %P 88 ff.
meillo@11 342 .]
meillo@11 343 .PP
meillo@11 344 Non-interactive use is, during development, also an advantage for testing.
meillo@11 345 Testing of interactive programs is much more complicated,
meillo@11 346 than testing of non-interactive programs.
meillo@5 347
meillo@16 348 .NH 2
meillo@8 349 The toolchest approach
meillo@5 350 .LP
meillo@5 351 A toolchest is a set of tools.
meillo@5 352 Instead of having one big tool for all tasks, one has many small tools,
meillo@5 353 each for one task.
meillo@5 354 Difficult tasks are solved by combining several of the small, simple tools.
meillo@5 355 .PP
meillo@11 356 The Unix toolchest \fIis\fP a set of small, (mostly) non-interactive programs
meillo@11 357 that are filters on byte streams.
meillo@11 358 They are, to a large extend, unrelated in their function.
meillo@11 359 Hence, the Unix toolchest provides a large set of functions
meillo@11 360 that can be accessed by combining the programs in the desired way.
meillo@11 361 .PP
meillo@11 362 There are also advantages for developing small toolchest programs.
meillo@5 363 It is easier and less error-prone to write small programs.
meillo@5 364 It is also easier and less error-prone to write a large set of small programs,
meillo@5 365 than to write one large program with all the functionality included.
meillo@5 366 If the small programs are combinable, then they offer even a larger set
meillo@5 367 of functions than the single large program.
meillo@5 368 Hence, one gets two advantages out of writing small, combinable programs.
meillo@5 369 .PP
meillo@5 370 There are two drawbacks of the toolchest approach.
meillo@8 371 First, one simple, standardized, unidirectional interface has to be sufficient.
meillo@5 372 If one feels the need for more ``logic'' than a stream of bytes,
meillo@8 373 then a different approach might be of need.
meillo@13 374 But it is also possible, that he just can not imagine a design where
meillo@8 375 a stream of bytes is sufficient.
meillo@8 376 By becoming more familiar with the ``Unix style of thinking'',
meillo@8 377 developers will more often and easier find simple designs where
meillo@8 378 a stream of bytes is a sufficient interface.
meillo@8 379 .PP
meillo@8 380 The second drawback of a toolchest affects the users.
meillo@5 381 A toolchest is often more difficult to use for novices.
meillo@9 382 It is necessary to become familiar with each of the tools,
meillo@5 383 to be able to use the right one in a given situation.
meillo@9 384 Additionally, one needs to combine the tools in a senseful way on its own.
meillo@9 385 This is like a sharp knife \(en it is a powerful tool in the hand of a master,
meillo@5 386 but of no good value in the hand of an unskilled.
meillo@5 387 .PP
meillo@8 388 However, learning single, small tool of the toolchest is easier than
meillo@8 389 learning a complex tool.
meillo@8 390 The user will have a basic understanding of a yet unknown tool,
meillo@8 391 if the several tools of the toolchest have a common style.
meillo@8 392 He will be able to transfer knowledge over one tool to another.
meillo@8 393 .PP
meillo@8 394 Moreover, the second drawback can be removed easily by adding wrappers
meillo@8 395 around the single tools.
meillo@5 396 Novice users do not need to learn several tools if a professional wraps
meillo@8 397 the single commands into a more high-level script.
meillo@5 398 Note that the wrapper script still calls the small tools;
meillo@5 399 the wrapper script is just like a skin around.
meillo@8 400 No complexity is added this way,
meillo@8 401 but new programs can get created out of existing one with very low effort.
meillo@5 402 .PP
meillo@5 403 A wrapper script for finding the five largest entries in the current directory
meillo@5 404 could look like this:
meillo@9 405 .DS I 2n
meillo@5 406 .CW
meillo@9 407 .ps -1
meillo@5 408 #!/bin/sh
meillo@5 409 du -s * | sort -nr | sed 5q
meillo@5 410 .DE
meillo@5 411 The script itself is just a text file that calls the command line
meillo@5 412 a professional user would type in directly.
meillo@8 413 Making the program flexible on the number of entries it prints,
meillo@8 414 is easily possible:
meillo@9 415 .DS I 2n
meillo@8 416 .CW
meillo@9 417 .ps -1
meillo@8 418 #!/bin/sh
meillo@8 419 num=5
meillo@8 420 [ $# -eq 1 ] && num="$1"
meillo@8 421 du -sh * | sort -nr | sed "${num}q"
meillo@8 422 .DE
meillo@8 423 This script acts like the one before, when called without an argument.
meillo@8 424 But one can also specify a numerical argument to define the number of lines to print.
meillo@5 425
meillo@16 426 .NH 2
meillo@8 427 A powerful shell
meillo@8 428 .LP
meillo@10 429 It was already said, that the Unix shell provides the possibility to
meillo@10 430 combine small programs into large ones easily.
meillo@10 431 A powerful shell is a great feature in other ways, too.
meillo@8 432 .PP
meillo@10 433 For instance by including a scripting language.
meillo@10 434 The control statements are build into the shell.
meillo@8 435 The functions, however, are the normal programs, everyone can use on the system.
meillo@10 436 Thus, the programs are known, so learning to program in the shell is easy.
meillo@8 437 Using normal programs as functions in the shell programming language
meillo@10 438 is only possible because they are small and combinable tools in a toolchest style.
meillo@8 439 .PP
meillo@8 440 The Unix shell encourages to write small scripts out of other programs,
meillo@8 441 because it is so easy to do.
meillo@8 442 This is a great step towards automation.
meillo@8 443 It is wonderful if the effort to automate a task equals the effort
meillo@8 444 it takes to do it the second time by hand.
meillo@8 445 If it is so, then the user will be happy to automate everything he does more than once.
meillo@8 446 .PP
meillo@8 447 Small programs that do one job well, standardized interfaces between them,
meillo@8 448 a mechanism to combine parts to larger parts, and an easy way to automate tasks,
meillo@8 449 this will inevitably produce software leverage.
meillo@8 450 Getting multiple times the benefit of an investment is a great offer.
meillo@10 451 .PP
meillo@10 452 The shell also encourages rapid prototyping.
meillo@10 453 Many well known programs started as quickly hacked shell scripts,
meillo@10 454 and turned into ``real'' programs, written in C, later.
meillo@10 455 Building a prototype first is a way to avoid the biggest problems
meillo@10 456 in application development.
meillo@10 457 Fred Brooks writes in ``No Silver Bullet'':
meillo@10 458 .[
meillo@10 459 %A Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.
meillo@10 460 %T No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering
meillo@10 461 %B Information Processing 1986, the Proceedings of the IFIP Tenth World Computing Conference
meillo@10 462 %E H.-J. Kugler
meillo@10 463 %D 1986
meillo@10 464 %P 1069\(en1076
meillo@10 465 %I Elsevier Science B.V.
meillo@10 466 %C Amsterdam, The Netherlands
meillo@10 467 .]
meillo@10 468 .QP
meillo@10 469 The hardest single part of building a software system is deciding precisely what to build.
meillo@10 470 No other part of the conceptual work is so difficult as establishing the detailed
meillo@10 471 technical requirements, [...].
meillo@10 472 No other part of the work so cripples the resulting system if done wrong.
meillo@10 473 No other part is more difficult to rectify later.
meillo@10 474 .PP
meillo@10 475 Writing a prototype is a great method to become familiar with the requirements
meillo@10 476 and to actually run into real problems.
meillo@10 477 Today, prototyping is often seen as a first step in building a software.
meillo@10 478 This is, of course, good.
meillo@10 479 However, the Unix Philosophy has an \fIadditional\fP perspective on prototyping:
meillo@10 480 After having built the prototype, one might notice, that the prototype is already
meillo@10 481 \fIgood enough\fP.
meillo@10 482 Hence, no reimplementation, in a more sophisticated programming language, might be of need,
meillo@10 483 for the moment.
meillo@10 484 Maybe later, it might be neccessary to rewrite the software, but not now.
meillo@10 485 .PP
meillo@10 486 By delaying further work, one keeps the flexibility to react easily on
meillo@10 487 changing requirements.
meillo@10 488 Software parts that are not written will not miss the requirements.
meillo@10 489
meillo@16 490 .NH 2
meillo@10 491 Worse is better
meillo@10 492 .LP
meillo@10 493 The Unix Philosophy aims for the 80% solution;
meillo@10 494 others call it the ``Worse is better'' approach.
meillo@10 495 .PP
meillo@10 496 First, practical experience shows, that it is almost never possible to define the
meillo@10 497 requirements completely and correctly the first time.
meillo@10 498 Hence one should not try to; it will fail anyway.
meillo@10 499 Second, practical experience shows, that requirements change during time.
meillo@10 500 Hence it is best to delay requirement-based design decisions as long as possible.
meillo@10 501 Also, the software should be small and flexible as long as possible
meillo@10 502 to react on changing requirements.
meillo@10 503 Shell scripts, for example, are more easily adjusted as C programs.
meillo@10 504 Third, practical experience shows, that maintenance is hard work.
meillo@10 505 Hence, one should keep the amount of software as small as possible;
meillo@10 506 it should just fulfill the \fIcurrent\fP requirements.
meillo@10 507 Software parts that will be written later, do not need maintenance now.
meillo@10 508 .PP
meillo@10 509 Starting with a prototype in a scripting language has several advantages:
meillo@10 510 .IP \(bu
meillo@10 511 As the initial effort is low, one will likely start right away.
meillo@10 512 .IP \(bu
meillo@10 513 As working parts are available soon, the real requirements can get identified soon.
meillo@10 514 .IP \(bu
meillo@10 515 When a software is usable, it gets used, and thus tested.
meillo@10 516 Hence problems will be found at early stages of the development.
meillo@10 517 .IP \(bu
meillo@10 518 The prototype might be enough for the moment,
meillo@10 519 thus further work on the software can be delayed to a time
meillo@10 520 when one knows better about the requirements and problems,
meillo@10 521 than now.
meillo@10 522 .IP \(bu
meillo@10 523 Implementing now only the parts that are actually needed now,
meillo@10 524 requires fewer maintenance work.
meillo@10 525 .IP \(bu
meillo@10 526 If the global situation changes so that the software is not needed anymore,
meillo@10 527 then less effort was spent into the project, than it would have be
meillo@10 528 when a different approach had been used.
meillo@10 529
meillo@16 530 .NH 2
meillo@11 531 Upgrowth and survival of software
meillo@11 532 .LP
meillo@12 533 So far it was talked about \fIwriting\fP or \fIbuilding\fP software.
meillo@13 534 Although these are just verbs, they do imply a specific view on the work process
meillo@13 535 they describe.
meillo@12 536 The better verb, however, is to \fIgrow\fP.
meillo@12 537 .PP
meillo@12 538 Creating software in the sense of the Unix Philosophy is an incremental process.
meillo@12 539 It starts with a first prototype, which evolves as requirements change.
meillo@12 540 A quickly hacked shell script might become a large, sophisticated,
meillo@13 541 compiled program this way.
meillo@13 542 Its lifetime begins with the initial prototype and ends when the software is not used anymore.
meillo@13 543 While being alive it will get extended, rearranged, rebuilt (from scratch).
meillo@12 544 Growing software matches the view that ``software is never finished. It is only released.''
meillo@12 545 .[
meillo@13 546 %O FIXME
meillo@13 547 %A Mike Gancarz
meillo@13 548 %T The UNIX Philosophy
meillo@13 549 %P 26
meillo@12 550 .]
meillo@12 551 .PP
meillo@13 552 Software can be seen as being controlled by evolutionary processes.
meillo@13 553 Successful software is software that is used by many for a long time.
meillo@12 554 This implies that the software is needed, useful, and better than alternatives.
meillo@12 555 Darwin talks about: ``The survival of the fittest.''
meillo@12 556 .[
meillo@13 557 %O FIXME
meillo@13 558 %A Charles Darwin
meillo@12 559 .]
meillo@12 560 Transferred to software: The most successful software, is the fittest,
meillo@12 561 is the one that survives.
meillo@13 562 (This may be at the level of one creature, or at the level of one species.)
meillo@13 563 The fitness of software is affected mainly by four properties:
meillo@15 564 portability of code, portability of data, range of usability, and reusability of parts.
meillo@15 565 .\" .IP \(bu
meillo@15 566 .\" portability of code
meillo@15 567 .\" .IP \(bu
meillo@15 568 .\" portability of data
meillo@15 569 .\" .IP \(bu
meillo@15 570 .\" range of usability
meillo@15 571 .\" .IP \(bu
meillo@15 572 .\" reuseability of parts
meillo@13 573 .PP
meillo@15 574 (1)
meillo@15 575 .I "Portability of code
meillo@15 576 means, using high-level programming languages,
meillo@13 577 sticking to the standard,
meillo@13 578 and avoiding optimizations that introduce dependencies on specific hardware.
meillo@13 579 Hardware has a much lower lifetime than software.
meillo@13 580 By chaining software to a specific hardware,
meillo@13 581 the software's lifetime gets shortened to that of this hardware.
meillo@13 582 In contrast, software should be easy to port \(en
meillo@13 583 adaption is the key to success.
meillo@13 584 .\" cf. practice of prog: ch08
meillo@13 585 .PP
meillo@15 586 (2)
meillo@15 587 .I "Portability of data
meillo@15 588 is best achieved by avoiding binary representations
meillo@13 589 to store data, because binary representations differ from machine to machine.
meillo@13 590 Textual represenation is favored.
meillo@13 591 Historically, ASCII was the charset of choice.
meillo@13 592 In the future, UTF-8 might be the better choice, however.
meillo@13 593 Important is that it is a plain text representation in a
meillo@13 594 very common charset encoding.
meillo@13 595 Apart from being able to transfer data between machines,
meillo@13 596 readable data has the great advantage, that humans are able
meillo@13 597 to directly edit it with text editors and other tools from the Unix toolchest.
meillo@13 598 .\" gancarz tenet 5
meillo@13 599 .PP
meillo@15 600 (3)
meillo@15 601 A large
meillo@15 602 .I "range of usability
meillo@15 603 ensures good adaption, and thus good survival.
meillo@13 604 It is a special distinction if a software becomes used in fields of action,
meillo@13 605 the original authors did never imagine.
meillo@13 606 Software that solves problems in a general way will likely be used
meillo@13 607 for all kinds of similar problems.
meillo@13 608 Being too specific limits the range of uses.
meillo@13 609 Requirements change through time, thus use cases change or even vanish.
meillo@13 610 A good example in this point is Allman's sendmail.
meillo@13 611 Allman identifies flexibility to be one major reason for sendmail's success:
meillo@13 612 .[
meillo@13 613 %O FIXME
meillo@13 614 %A Allman
meillo@13 615 %T sendmail
meillo@13 616 .]
meillo@13 617 .QP
meillo@13 618 Second, I limited myself to the routing function [...].
meillo@13 619 This was a departure from the dominant thought of the time, [...].
meillo@13 620 .QP
meillo@13 621 Third, the sendmail configuration file was flexible enough to adopt
meillo@13 622 to a rapidly changing world [...].
meillo@12 623 .LP
meillo@13 624 Successful software adopts itself to the changing world.
meillo@13 625 .PP
meillo@15 626 (4)
meillo@15 627 .I "Reuse of parts
meillo@15 628 is even one step further.
meillo@13 629 A software may completely lose its field of action,
meillo@13 630 but parts of which the software is build may be general and independent enough
meillo@13 631 to survive this death.
meillo@13 632 If software is build by combining small independent programs,
meillo@13 633 then there are parts readily available for reuse.
meillo@13 634 Who cares if the large program is a failure,
meillo@13 635 but parts of it become successful instead?
meillo@10 636
meillo@16 637 .NH 2
meillo@14 638 Summary
meillo@0 639 .LP
meillo@14 640 This chapter explained the central ideas of the Unix Philosophy.
meillo@14 641 For each of the ideas, it was exposed what advantages they introduce.
meillo@14 642 The Unix Philosophy are guidelines that help to write valuable software.
meillo@14 643 From the view point of a software developer or software designer,
meillo@14 644 the Unix Philosophy provides answers to many software design problem.
meillo@14 645 .PP
meillo@14 646 The various ideas of the Unix Philosophy are very interweaved
meillo@14 647 and can hardly be applied independently.
meillo@14 648 However, the probably most important messages are:
meillo@14 649 .I "``Do one thing well!''" ,
meillo@14 650 .I "``Keep it simple!''" ,
meillo@14 651 and
meillo@14 652 .I "``Use software leverage!''
meillo@0 653
meillo@8 654
meillo@8 655
meillo@0 656 .NH 1
meillo@0 657 Case study: nmh
meillo@18 658 .LP
meillo@18 659 The last chapter introduced and explained the Unix Philosophy
meillo@18 660 from a general point of view.
meillo@18 661 The driving force were the guidelines and references to
meillo@18 662 existing software were given only sparsely.
meillo@18 663 In this and the next chapter, concrete software will be
meillo@18 664 the driving force in the discussion.
meillo@18 665 .PP
meillo@18 666 This first case study is about the mail user agents \s-1MH\s0
meillo@18 667 (``mail handler'') and its descendent \fInmh\fP (``new mail handler'').
meillo@18 668
meillo@0 669
meillo@0 670 .NH 2
meillo@18 671 History of \s-1MH\s0
meillo@0 672 .LP
meillo@18 673 In 1977, Stockton Gaines and Norman Shapiro of the \s-1RAND\s0 Corporation
meillo@18 674 came up with a concept for a new electronic mail system.
meillo@18 675 Till then, \s-1RAND\s0 had used \s-1MS\s0 (``mail system''),
meillo@18 676 which was monolithic.
meillo@18 677 In 1978 and 1989, Bruce Borden implemented the concept \(en
meillo@18 678 this was the birth of \s-1MH\s0.
meillo@18 679 .PP
meillo@18 680 Since then, \s-1RAND\s0, the University of California at Irvine and
meillo@18 681 at Berkeley, and several others have contributet to the software.
meillo@18 682 However, it's core concepts remained the same.
meillo@18 683 In the 90s, the development of \s-1MH\s0 slowed down.
meillo@18 684 Richard Coleman started with \fInmh\fP, the new mail handler,
meillo@18 685 in 1997 to improve \s-1MH\s0, especially in regard of modern emailing.
meillo@18 686 Today, nmh is developed by various people on the internet.
meillo@18 687 .[
meillo@18 688 %T RAND and the Information Evolution: A History in Essays and Vignettes
meillo@18 689 %A Willis H. Ware
meillo@18 690 %D 2008
meillo@18 691 %I The RAND Corporation
meillo@18 692 %P 128\(en137
meillo@18 693 %O .CW \s-1
meillo@18 694 .]
meillo@18 695 .[
meillo@18 696 %T MH & xmh: Email for Users & Programmers
meillo@18 697 %A Jerry Peek
meillo@18 698 %D 1991, 1992, 1995
meillo@18 699 %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
meillo@18 700 %P Appendix B
meillo@18 701 %O Also available online: \f(CW\s-2\fP
meillo@18 702 .]
meillo@0 703
meillo@0 704 .NH 2
meillo@0 705 Contrasts to similar sw
meillo@0 706 .LP
meillo@0 707 vs. Thunderbird, mutt, mailx, pine
meillo@0 708 .LP
meillo@0 709 flexibility, no redundancy, use the shell
meillo@0 710
meillo@0 711 .NH 2
meillo@0 712 Gains of the design
meillo@0 713 .LP
meillo@0 714
meillo@0 715 .NH 2
meillo@0 716 Problems
meillo@0 717 .LP
meillo@0 718
meillo@8 719
meillo@8 720
meillo@0 721 .NH 1
meillo@0 722 Case study: uzbl
meillo@0 723
meillo@0 724 .NH 2
meillo@0 725 History
meillo@0 726 .LP
meillo@0 727 uzbl is young
meillo@0 728
meillo@0 729 .NH 2
meillo@0 730 Contrasts to similar sw
meillo@0 731 .LP
meillo@0 732 like with nmh
meillo@0 733 .LP
meillo@0 734 addons, plugins, modules
meillo@0 735
meillo@0 736 .NH 2
meillo@0 737 Gains of the design
meillo@0 738 .LP
meillo@0 739
meillo@0 740 .NH 2
meillo@0 741 Problems
meillo@0 742 .LP
meillo@0 743 broken web
meillo@0 744
meillo@8 745
meillo@8 746
meillo@0 747 .NH 1
meillo@0 748 Final thoughts
meillo@0 749
meillo@0 750 .NH 2
meillo@0 751 Quick summary
meillo@0 752 .LP
meillo@0 753 good design
meillo@0 754 .LP
meillo@0 755 unix phil
meillo@0 756 .LP
meillo@0 757 case studies
meillo@0 758
meillo@0 759 .NH 2
meillo@0 760 Why people should choose
meillo@0 761 .LP
meillo@0 762 Make the right choice!
meillo@0 763
meillo@0 764 .nr PI .5i
meillo@0 765 .rm ]<
meillo@0 766 .de ]<
meillo@0 767 .LP
meillo@0 768 .de FP
meillo@0 769 .IP \\\\$1.
meillo@0 770 \\..
meillo@0 771 .rm FS FE
meillo@0 772 ..
meillo@0 773 .SH
meillo@0 774 References
meillo@0 775 .[
meillo@0 776 $LIST$
meillo@0 777 .]
meillo@0 778 .wh -1p