Cue the command line | The ReadME Project

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One of the best and worst things about the Internet is that you can quickly get sucked down a rabbit hole of content. Sometimes it takes the form of memes of one flavor or another, and sometimes it takes the form of content that’s actually interesting, relevant, and useful.

About a week ago, GitHub posted a link on LinkedIn to a article about the history, utility, and future of CSS, through which I discovered The ReadME Project, which is GitHub’s content hub about everything open source.

I read the article, and then promptly checked out The ReadME Podcast. The first episode I listened to was “Cue the Command Line” which was a general discussion about the history and utility of the command line.

And suddenly I found a new favorite podcast.

I’m still relatively early on in my journey to becoming proficient with the command line, but I already see the power that it holds, and I really just like being able to do things in a more manual way. In fact, I’m at the point where I prefer doing things like installing and updating WordPress plugins and clearing the cache through the command line versus clicking through the labyrinthine menus in the WordPress dashboard. With that in view, it was exciting and enlightening to hear from seasoned developers who’ve been at it for decades.

Here are the big takeaways:

  • The command line makes it possible to automate and streamline redundant tasks in a way that prevents or eliminates human error completely. One of the guests shared a story about how she was able to automate a 2 1/2 hour, data entry intensive migration process by developing a command line tool that cut the whole process down to two minutes.
  • Becoming in leader in an open source project requires you to either build something yourself, or build trust as a contributor to existing projects. Building trust has a lot to do with consistency and communication and Learning how to communicate effectively asynchronously.
  • The command line makes it possible to build custom tooling without the added complexity of designing a GUI.
  • New tools for augmenting and enhancing the command line are coming out all the time and it’s pretty dizzying to see what’s out there already. (One particularly fun example is

Sometimes the podcasts I listen to have immediately actionable insights. This one was more about gaining context on a particular domain of knowledge. Learning more about the possibilities for the command line made me even more excited to learn how to create my own scripts and tools.

For a while, I’ve thought about coding like Legos: You can take these little building blocks and assemble them into whatever you want. But what I realized while listening to this episode is that it goes even deeper than that. It’s not just about being able to put together pre-fabricated Lego blocks that have been shaped for you—it’s about being able to create custom blocks that nobody has ever made before.

I find the nearly infinite creative possibilities of coding in general, and the command line in particular incredibly energizing. I look forward to the day when I can think of a tool that I want to make, and actually have the chops to build it right then and there.

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