Back to the CLI

My fingers hurt. I’ve spent the last few hours bemoaning the fact that I left my notebook charger at the office 30km away, and that the replacement won’t arrive until tomorrow. Not content to sit around, I realized that while most iPadOS remote desktop/VNC clients suck, there are plenty of good SSH clients. So, I set about learning how to use Neovim, and a dash of LUA for good measure. I won’t post the file, since there’s already plenty to search for, but I will point out why Neovim is better.

So, first: LUA. If you’ve tried to make any kind of useful VIM configuration, you’ve probably seen that it can get ugly fast. LUA allows for modular configuration and is a rather pleasant configuration language. It reads well, indents well and generally communicates intent pretty clearly. Configuration with LUA is much cleaner, so point #1 for Neovim.

I wanted to get the most basic setup possible, spend as little time configuring things, and end up with a very specific result: autocompletion, syntax checking and navigation. I’ve struggled with getting all these to work together in VIM, but Neovim uses fewer plugins to accomplish the same task, and thus has fewer configuration issues.

But, this is not about Neovim, as awesome as it is, but more of a philosophical reflection on how hard it is to get away from the command line. It’s where I started so many (I won’t even tell you!) years ago. And it’s where I’m going back to. Somewhere around when Windows Vista came out, I made a concious effort to learn how to use a GUI, because my fingers hurt then too.

But, it turns out that you need language, not gestures, to express complex thoughts. And so interfaces go back to the CLI. And though I can still navigate certain pieces of complex software (VS, e.g.) extremely well with the GUI, notice that all of them have added back a text interface to allow for more complex commands (the command palette in VS Code, e.g.). And there are options that exist only in the Azure CLI that you can’t find in the Portal. No, no matter how hard I try, the CLI just keeps coming back. And now my fingers hurt again. Where’s my voice-controlled computer that understands spoken C# and bash? 😂


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