Somewhat recently, Jess Frazelle wrote about her love of UNIX pipes, a sentiment I wholeheartedly share, to the extent that I think web apps should behave more like Unix programs by making data readily available via APIs so other applications can easily process that data.
This, in a nutshell, is the Unix philosophy as stated by Doug McIlroy:
- Make each program do one thing well. To do a new job, build afresh rather than complicate old programs by adding new “features”.
- Expect the output of every program to become the input to another, as yet unknown, program. Don’t clutter output with extraneous information. Avoid stringently columnar or binary input formats. Don’t insist on interactive input.
The seminal notion of pipelines as a metaphor for open, flexible communication and composable constituent parts of a process or application is as groundbreaking as it is still relevant – if sometimes forgotten or disregarded – today.