Why Text Files are a Good Idea
One of the initial design requirements of TaskForest was that it be easily configuriable with just a shell prompt and your favorite text editor. Many of the servers I administer are old boxes which I administer by logging into them via
ssh. So when it came to designing job dependencies in Family files, I chose a text file representation. The benefits of text files over a graphical user interface for this are many:
- Easy Remote Access - All you need is the ability to get to a command line and a text editor on the machine that runs
taskforest. With the such low client access requirements, virtually any old machine that has internet access and an
sshclient can be used to administer the system. I have often worked on our
taskforestdserver from a local internet cafe using a Putty.exe downloaded minutes earlier.
- Mobile Access - Text files also make work relatively easy using a mobile ssh client like Idokorro Mobile SSH. A dedicated mobile client would be ideal, but short of that, the text file approach assures low bandwidth usage and easy-to-make changes.
- Flexibility - The simple, easily parseable format of text files allows us to build richer clients later that would use a graphical interface to specify relationships between jobs.
- Source Control - The text based format makes it easy to place the Family files under source control. You can also easily
diffdifferent versions of the same family file.
- Grep - When you have dozens of family files and hundreds of jobs, you may need to answer questions like: "Are we still running Job J1? It needs to be decommissioned." This can easily be answered by
grepping the Family files for job J1.