I can’t for the life of me find this article I read about these two types of software. I was going through an emacs phase, trying to learn all about the editor ( OS ) in order to get closer to org-mode. Spoiler alert, never got there. What follows are the thoughts which have stuck with me and are focused on command line work. The programs I am thinking of live in this scenario. Your millage may vary.

Two types of software

The article was outlining one of the differences that can be seen in certain softwares. The sort of software one might use all the time. Generally this idea can be seen with an editor and a web browser. Specifically one editor in particular but really any program which is doing one thing, editing text. The difference is that one can be seen more as a tool while the other is more like a place.

A tool

Something which gets picked up and put down. You would pick it up, you the thing, put it down when you are done. A text editor is more like a tool in that you open it, write your text and put it away again. In the context of software these tools tend to favour certain characteristics. They tend to be simple and they tend to be quick to load. Simple in the sense that they do one thing and one thing well, quick to load because they are opened and closed a fair amount.

A Place

A place is where you go to be. So you get there and stick around for a bit. There may be multiple things going on and more than one function for that software. A web browser is a good example of this. Launching a web browser can take longer than listing the files in a directory however there can be a lot more going on. At work we have team communication, task management, more task management and building websites. These all happen in a tab in the browser. It was this concept of software as a place which partly led me to start using Slack in the browser instead of the stand along electron app ( #noRegrets ). Places tend to be slower to load and can manage more than one function at a time. They are allowed to be slower because you will open it once and leave it open to accomplish multiple things.

Don’t mention it

Although I can’t find the article I read, this stack overflow is what they were talking about.