Turning Text Into Actions

I’ve always been fascinated by the Plan9. The idea that everything is just a file¬†appeals to me because it means you can work with the system using simple tools. Everything works pretty much the same, all you need is your trusted ls, cat, grep, cp and grep. It is almost like having a conversation with the system ūüôā …well, anyhow…

Another cool thing is the way Acme¬†works. The Acme is Plan9’s text editor, but because because everything in the system is pretty much just a text file, it doubles as the ‘graphical’ user interface as well. Commands are just a text like “Open” or “Copy” and a menu is a list of commands. Very simple. And because is is all just a text, you can add new commands or amend existing ones by editing. ¬†Inter-process communication is done in similar way using the¬†Plumber¬†to interpret text and turn it into series of commands to drive other applications.¬†Thus, the whole user interface is kind of like one interactive text document, …or shell, or log, or terminal ¬†– yes it can get rather confusing sometimes.

…but like the concept. As long time Mac and Unix user I always wished to bring some of that functionality to the graphical apps I am using every day. Bridging the text with the drag ¬†& drop – thats why I created Tactor.

Imagine simple uses case:

  • You grep stuff in the terminal, would it not be cool to turn it into a file list you can drag and drop? or to just to a line number with the match?


  • Or someone sent you a log with a java exception in it, would it not be nice just to select it and load the corresponding source file in an editor?


  • What about piping output of a command into any text field / document – the vi way?

Tactor makes it happen for me. A lot of the functionality depends on pattern / file matching so it needs to be customized by an user to get the best results, but I think it is well worth it and it is rather easy to extend.

I’ll continue posting my matching scripts as to be an inspiration to others.