Frontier Journal


Something very interesting is happening with my use of Frontier -- it is completely infiltrating my work and how I do it. I've used lots of programming languages and environments over the years, from Shell to Logo to BCPL to Lisp, and some I've tried to make integral to my work habits. For example, when working on my dissertation, I created a MediaText-like tool for tracking my research findings, associated documents, etc. That tool was useful during some stages of my work (e.g., through initial research and conceptualizing the paper), but was completely ignored later. Frontier, on the other hand, I startup with my machine and I use it constantly: For dealing with student mail, for dealing with grades and assignment turn-ins, for posting websites, for writing papers and proposals, etc.

I have some theories why I'm using Frontier so much. First, it's a powerful scripting language that integrates with lots of other applications on my desktop, such as Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Eudora. Second, it has a flexible user-interface that includes an outliner, a menu editor, database view (tables), and word-processing text -- all of which are programmable. Third, it's a database. The Macintosh file system is slow. I can keep everything I do in Frontier and access it quickly.

It's probably akin to how some people become so addicted to Emacs on UNIX. Emacs integrates with all the things that people use their UNIX accounts for (e.g., newsgroups, email, Web), and the UNIX filesystem is fast -- and Emacs makes it fast to traverse the file system. I believe that Frontier is a somewhat nicer interface, but I believe that similar factors are at play here.

To get a sense of why I'm doing what I'm doing, I'm going to start writing here what I'm doing with Frontier, so that I can go back later to get a sense of why I'm using Frontier so much (and was such scripting worthwhile?). I plan to add to this as I invent new uses for Frontier for myself.