Tuesday, June 3, 2003

The Danger of Databases

Victor Ng:

Having everything in an object database is cool until you start using it. Then you realize that you’ve lost all your existing toolchain to manipulate data on a UNIX box. grep? sed? find? All gone. vim? haha good luck.

This is essentially the other side of the Power of Plain Text. Of course, this is not to say that everything should be plain text, just that there are tradeoffs. Funny (perhaps) story: a while ago I was designing a format for serialized objects. Efficiency wasn’t the primary concern, so I picked sexps. We already had code to generate and parse them, and they could easily be manipulated with Emacs and diff’d by the regression tests. I started pitching this using my (I guess) Mac vocabulary of text files vs. binary files. Josh’s first comment: text files are binary, too.

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