The Command Line is a Terrifying Thing

The command line is a terrifying thing.

It sits motionless. Black as a moonless night. Waiting.

The command line is unknowable. You cannot sit down in front of a command line and just figure it out. You have no reference points, no indications of what your options are. You have nowhere to start and nowhere to end. You are in an foreign country, on an alien world. You are utterly, hopelessly, lost.

The command line is unforgiving. All commands are equal; you type and press enter. There is no visual indication of whether you succeeded or not. There is no warning if you are about to do something terrible. All it takes is five characters to completely erase the contents of your entire computer. There is no undo.

Learning to use a command line after using a graphical interface is like waking up in the morning and realizing that you have gone blind. You are disoriented and unable to perform simple tasks. The methods you use to analyze something in the old world do not work in this world. There are no clues. There are no nested menus to tell you the relationships between features. You cannot estimate the importance of commands by their size or prominence on the screen. There are no loading bars to indicate the progress in a download. You must relearn ways to identify these clues, in a new environment.

But you cannot. Like a wanderer without a map, the user sees the command line as uncharted territory. A desert wasteland. Uninhabitable.

See the resemblance?