May 19, 2011

TermKit is sort of a cross between a terminal and a GUI--using WebKit and JavaScript--and it's kind of blowing my mind.

[Since the early days of UNIX] we've gotten a lot better at displaying information. We've also learned a lot of lessons through the web about data interchange, network transparency, API design, and more. We know better how small tweaks in an implementation can make a world of difference in usability. […]

So while I agree that having a flexible toolbox is great, in my opinion, those pieces could be built a lot better… TermKit is my attempt at making these better tools…

I see TermKit as an extension of what Apple did with OS X, in particular the system tools like Disk Utility and Activity Monitor. Tech stuff doesn't have to look like it comes from the Matrix.

As an example, you can cat an image file:

TermKit cat doesn't know how to process PNGs or HTML--it only guesses the MIME type based on the filename and pipes the raw data to the next process. Then the formatter sends the image to the front-end.

Rui Carmo puts it well: "It's as if someone sent you HTML mail in the 70s."

(Via Andy Baio.)

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