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Showing posts from 2015

Why Fossil-SCM is an excellent choice for introductory programming courses

Fossil SCM for introductory programming courses The use of source control management (or version control - take your pick) is an important skill for new programmers to adopt.  It is expected that all programmers use SCM in their daily jobs, in order to coordinate changes among team members.  Thus, getting beginners to adopt good habits early should be a goal.

While GIT (  is certainly the dominant source control system of today, I believe instructors of introductory classes in programming should consider an alternative called Fossil (

Fossil has several compelling advantages in education over GIT.  You will see that I value the practical aspects of Fossil even more than its technical capabilities.  After all, an instructor has a limited amount of time to have an impact and they don't want to waste time doing technical support on a tool that is too complex.  Helping one or two people is fine but helping 30 can be a real burden.

Simple installation and …

My favorite feature of REXX and the one I miss most in other languages

I'm a pretty relaxed programmer.   I like a programming feature that is so intuitive that I can remember how to use it without a reference manual and without Google.

REXX was invented to make string processing easy, at a time when there were few choices.   That's an apology because you won't see things like regular expressions natively in REXX.  But here's the kicker - you don't need them.  REXX has a simple syntax that is easy to remember and use.  It is not as powerful as PERL or Python - it was not made for that audience. It is a tool that lets regular people be productive without remembering a ton of rules.
s = 'this is my string' if I want the 3rd word, type :
say word(s, 3) dt = '10/20/2030' The feature I like most is the "parse var" command.
The basic form is:

parse var sourcevar target1 separator target2 separator2 ... .The '.' character represents a throwaway item.  The last target in the command gets the remainder of the stri…

Joy of TCC and Take Command - Directory and Command history

Did you know you can pre-populate your directory and command histories?

Why would you want to do that?  Well, when I'm doing software development, my project directories often require a lot of navigation.  I already know what directories I'm going to be using most.  So, I put them into the directory history  using the dirhistory command.

dirhistory /a src\node
dirhistory /a src\lib

That way, i can simply press control-page up and quickly select the directory to change to.

I also use gulp a lot so I like to have it in my history right away.  That's easy in TakeCommand:

history /a gulp

That's it.

Now, when I press Control-PgUp, I get the directories I prepopulated. When I press PgUp, I get the history command I populated (e.g. "gulp").