why does "cut" print fields in original order?

Dave Ihnat dihnat at dminet.com
Wed Nov 21 15:35:43 UTC 2007

On Wed, Nov 21, 2007 at 10:43:16PM +0800, Ed Greshko wrote:
> Why some folks would want it (or expect it) to do more is beyond me.  :-)

Oh, I understand it; "you've already GOT the fields, why not let me
rearrange them?".  Simple--if you don't know the philosophy behind the
way Unix was evolving.  (And yes, I know you know that--I saw the smiley.
Just an opportunity to reminisce--or pontificate, take your pick.)

People today take the shell, and its ability to allow the normal user
to make complex commands (scripts)from a grab-bag of special-purpose
commands, for granted.  It was actually a radical innovation--the common
model for a CLI back then was that it a privileged part of the OS,
and you used what you were given, by Ghu.

In the explosion of tools and utilities that this new model spawned,
there were literally hundreds of commands that totally confused the new
Unix user.  "Why in the name of all that's holy would you ever need a
command called 'tr'?" (substitute your favorite confusing little program.)
And this was a logical question--IF you didn't look at all these utilities
as pieces to use in building a script.

Actually, I've always regretted that Job's NeXT never survived.  NextStep
had a pretty cool concept that did for GUI-based commands what the shell
did for the CLI--a toolkit of graphical objects that you piped together.
Unfortunately, the NeXT didn't survive, and although NextStep was eventually
made available separately for the Intel platform, it's clearly never really
become generally used, and its GUI toolkit model hasn't been picked up.

	Dave Ihnat
	President, DMINET Consulting, Inc.
	dihnat at dminet.com

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