How configuration should work.

April 19, 2008 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

If you use emacs you might know about the “customize-apropos” command. This command will take a regular expression and search for all settings that match it. Scripts written in emacs lisp can register settings so that this command can find them. For any of the settings found it is possible to jump to a group of similar settings. This is a very nice way of doing configuration.

In fact some applications do do such things: in windows vista is is now possible to search the control panel for controls (though the granularity is quite a lot higher and one can’t use regular expressions).

I also quite like the idea of ‘faceted selection of options’, for want of a less pretentious name. Those interested in the ‘semantic web’ seem to quite like this concept. The idea here would be that each system setting would have a number of facets associated with it. For example a setting might have a ‘string facet’ indicating it is a string type, a ‘networking’ and ‘security’ facet, and perhaps an advanced facet. When searching for settings one could could specify a number facets to restrict results together with search strings. This might well make it a great deal easier to find settings, and would remove the ‘guess the taxonomy’ game that one normally needs to play when looking at configuration options. It also means you don’t


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