[Pipet Devel] man to man^H^H^Hnode parameters

J.W. Bizzaro bizzaro at geoserve.net
Thu Jul 13 12:35:15 EDT 2000

I just wanted to re-introduce Brad's very cool idea of parsing Unix man pages
for the purpose of automatically determining the parameters to be used with
command-line programs imported to run under Piper (as nodes).

We should develop a parser that can grab both the OPTIONS and their
descriptions and XML-ize them.  Descriptions can then be used by the UI as
tooltips or the equivalent.

Here's an excerpt from the man page for ls:

       -a, --all
              do not hide entries starting with .

       -A, --almost-all
              do not list implied . and ..

       -b, --escape
              print octal escapes for nongraphic characters

              use SIZE-byte blocks

       -B, --ignore-backups
              do not list implied entries ending with ~

       -c     with  -lt:  sort  by, and show, ctime (time of last
              modification of file status information)

              with -l: show ctime and  sort  by  name  otherwise:
              sort by ctime

A few weeks ago, I described Piper to a comp sci prof at UMass.  This idea
actually brought a smile to his face.  He didn't say anything about it.  He
just smiled :-)

This also goes along with our plan to make Piper as Unix-centric as possible. 
By this, I mean to make use of all the excellent ideas that have been
developed over the decades and, more importantly, all the thousands of tools
in existence.  It will give Piper an ENORMOUS head-start over systems like

Why should Unix be Windows-ized or Mac-ized?!  I want to fight this trend, not
just for the sake of fighting, but because the ideas behind these OSes are not
necessarily superior to those behind Unix.

I wonder if Piper will actually breath new life into the development of
traditional command-line programs :-)

J.W. Bizzaro                                           jeff at bioinformatics.org
Director, Bioinformatics.org: The Open Lab     http://bioinformatics.org/~jeff
"Let the machine do the dirty work." -- Kernighan and Ritchie

More information about the Pipet-Devel mailing list