Message from discussion English Idiom in Unix: Directory Recursively
From: Hans Georg Schaathun <h...@schaathun.net>
Subject: Re: English Idiom in Unix: Directory Recursively
Date: Wed, 18 May 2011 09:12:05 +0100
Organization: University of Bergen
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On Tue, 17 May 2011 15:26:42 -0700 (PDT), Xah Lee
: If you look at Windows or Mac OS X world, i don't think they ever
: refer to dealing with whole dir as â€śrecursiveâ€ in user interface.
That's purely due to a difference in the level of abstraction.
Mac OS introduced its own vocabulary, of folders, where Unix and DOS
talked about directories.
A folder is a visual element on the screen; exactly modelling a paper
folder. It goes without saying that if you bin a folder, the contents
goes with it. Anything else would break the model and abstraction.
On Unix, the directory is just a file, listing other files by name
and disk location. Then it is perfectly natural (although very
rarely smart) to delete a directory without any concequences to the
contents. The data structure is clearly recursive; a file is either
an ordinary file or a directory, and a directory is a list of files.
An operation traversing the recursive data structure is recursive
regardless of how the algorithm is specified or implemented.
A large, although diminishing, fraction of Unix (excluding Mac OS)
users are likely to be familiar with the recursive structure of the
Now Mac OS X has maintained the folder concept of older mac generations,
and Windows has cloned it. They do not want the user to understand
recursive data structures, and therefore, naturally, avoid the word.
:-- Hans Georg