Author Topic: Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best by Brian Kernighan  (Read 12243 times)


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Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best by Brian Kernighan
« on: August 22, 2019, 10:56:41 AM »
As I write this column, I’m in the middle of two summer projects; with luck, they’ll both be i nished by the time you read it. One involves a forensic analysis of over 100,000 lines of old C and assembly code from about 1990, and I have to work on Windows XP. The other is a hack to translate code written in weird language L1 into weird language L2 with a program written in script- ing language L3, where none of the L’s even existed in 1990; this one uses Linux. Thus it’s perhaps a bit surprising that I i nd myself relying on much the same toolset for these very different tasks.

'''What’s Changed'''

Bill Plauger and I wrote Software Tools in 1975, nine years before IEEE Software began publication. Our title was certainly not the i rst use of the phrase, but the book did help to popularize the idea of tools and show how a small set of simple text-based tools could make programmers more productive. Our toolset was stolen quite explicitly from Unix mod- els. At the time, Unix was barely known outside a tiny community, and even the idea of thinking con- sciously about software tools seemed new. In fact, we even wrote our programs in a dialect of Fortran because C was barely three years old at the time and we thought we’d sell more copies if we aimed at Fortran programmers.

A lot has changed over the past 25 or 30 years. Computers are enormously faster and have vastly more memory and disk space, and we can write much bigger and more interesting programs with all that horsepower. Although C is still widely used, programmers today often prefer languages such as Java and Python that spend memory and time to gain expressiveness and safety, which is almost al- ways a good trade.


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Re: Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best by Brian Kernighan
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2019, 02:05:56 PM »
10 years ago someone shared this post about "the old ways" on reddit, and here was my response to it:

While these tools are useful (grep, find, diff), there are powerful graphical tools that do it much better.

My powerful editor: Slickedit, does the job of grep and find much better than these command line tools.

For example, I can highlight a variable in my code, and with a click of the button find everywhere it is used in a window. I can then click on each instance to have the source file opened to exactly the place in the file to where that reference is. It even allows regular expression searching. This is far superior to using command line grep.

SlickEdit is also available on all platforms: Windows, Unix/Linux flavors and Mac. It is a tool you have to pay for, but it is entirely worth it.


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Re: Sometimes the Old Ways Are Best by Brian Kernighan
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2019, 01:41:45 AM »
Has to be spam.  In a few days it'll have some web links added to it.