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you want directories? really?
03-01-2014, 10:11 PM
Post: #1
you want directories? really?
I have run across several comments, or criticisms, about the Prime that basically state that there should be a directory tree structure for organizing programs and variables like the HP-48 to HP-50 (to name a few).

Directory trees are one of the biggest hassles I encounter on computer systems. The problem is that files (or objects like programs, variables, data, etc.) can be grouped and linked by many different attribute dimensions. While on a software engineering team several years ago, when ever we would start a new development project, it seemed like we could debate for days/weeks on how to organize the directory file structure for the new project. Should we organize it by module function? by subsystem? by revision? issue? author's pet? programmer genus or favorite food? And once we thought we figured out the perfect tree structure, exceptions would come along that challenge our system. "Shoot, that file could either go here, there, or thither." And someone would eventually break down the system anyway. Given enough time, personnel would erode the file system structure (entropy always increases).

The problem with trees in computer organizations is that they are flat and do not allow multiple attribute dimensions in linking its nodes. But using flat trees is how many file systems link files these days. Until the foundation file system does it some other way, I will always be faced with the dilemma on my computer of "where do I put that file?" Do I put it under receipts? financial statements? tax files? And then hope I'm consistent with all "similar" files. Perhaps flat trees are a result of the flat displays computer hardware before and now are constrained with (maybe when computer displays are true 3D and gesture controlled, someone will create a file system that is not as flat as now).

On my HP-48 to HP-50, I can "organize" programs and variables (data) into a directory tree. This is nice but it is easy to run into the same problems. And on a hand-held, mobile, and highly interactive device as a calculator (note that I did not use the word "computer"). When I want to pick up my calculator to do a quick calculation, or computation, hunting down the right branch of that tree is the last thing I want to do.

Now what about the HP Prime? The more I work with it, the more I like it the way it is. It has Apps at the base, each app can have programs/functions and variables associated with it. There can also be app independent programs and variables. There are no "sub-apps" or sub-directories to place objects (and lose them). The tree can not get too wild. Functions and variables attached to apps create an "object-oriented" structure that is more "real-world" or "hands-on". The objects are tools that are always within reach and I do not have to open a "sub-toolbox" (or "sub-sub-...-toolbox" to get to the tool I need right away. The menu system even organizes objects and their properties into a kind of dynamic tree structure but not too deep to be really annoying.

I like the way all the objects are right within reach on the app display or even in some menu within a few swipes of the finger tips. It is possible to have many apps on that display but then the problem is just a distance problem -- how much to swipe to get to the object. Then just select the object/tool for access to the rich functions it contributes. And after all, the Prime is supposed to be a calculator (a highly interactive computing device for those, likely small, mobile problems) and not a computer system (a device for computing or organizing, perhaps huge, amounts of data and providing means for reducing it to meaningful terms to a user). Here is much better hardware available for the latter thing.

Perhaps those who were stuck and use to a directory structure before need to shift their paradigm -- like programmers having to go from "structured" to "object-oriented" programming.

On a clear disk, you can seek forever.
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Messages In This Thread
you want directories? really? - davetheguru - 03-01-2014 10:11 PM
RE: you want directories? really? - eried - 03-01-2014, 11:14 PM
RE: you want directories? really? - eried - 03-04-2014, 10:38 PM
RE: you want directories? really? - HP67 - 03-05-2014, 11:54 AM
RE: you want directories? really? - Stefan - 03-04-2014, 11:12 PM
RE: you want directories? really? - Angus - 03-05-2014, 06:12 AM

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