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Standardize layout of text in Output boxes #1056

pawsey-kbuckley opened this issue Nov 11, 2019 · 1 comment

Standardize layout of text in Output boxes #1056

pawsey-kbuckley opened this issue Nov 11, 2019 · 1 comment
help wanted


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@pawsey-kbuckley pawsey-kbuckley commented Nov 11, 2019

Possibly, given the lack of comments in the month after I submitted
the original "issue list" [Post-Teaching Demo feedback #1036] it's
been suggested that I separate out those issues: this is one such
seperated issue.

There are links to all of the seperated issues in the original.

I have kept the opening paragraph in for context.

I may also have corrected some typos !

I'm submitting this "issue list", ahead of one or more PRs, as a
result of recently performing a Software Carpentry Instructor
Training Teaching Demo, during the preperation for the demo of
which, I was scrutinisng the content of "The Unix Shell" lesson
quite (some might say too) intently, and so noticed some things
that PRs could address, assuming that the Lesson and/or Style
coveners agree that these things are in neeed of addressing.
  • Layout of text in Output boxes

One of the things I picked up on, whilst reading through the lesson
as a whole, was that the amount of space taken up with the Output
boxes for file and directory listings varies (no pun intended) widely.

The output from the very first command in "Introducing the Shell"
shows eight directories, laid out as follows

[ Desktop     Downloads   Movies      Pictures   ]
[ Documents   Library     Music       Public     ]

however, on a standard 80x24 terminal, those names would be
presented on one line, this

[ Desktop  Documents  Downloads  Library  Movies  Music  Pictures  Public ]

Interestingly, in the next episode, "Navigating Files and Directories"

the display of a directory containing the eight directories above, plus
an "Applications" directory, produces what the episode displays, vis:

[ Applications  Documents  Library  Music     Public  ]
[ Desktop       Downloads  Movies   Pictures          ]

but then later on in the same episode we see

[ $ ls -F /
[ Applications/         System/      ]
[ Library/              Users/       ]
[ Network/              Volumes/     ]

as opposed to what a standard terminal would display, vis

[ $ ls -F /
[ Applications/  Library/  Network/  System/  Users/  Volumes/    ]

One example, of where a previous listing of directory contents is
presented in a different way in a later episode would be in the
"Working With Files and Directories" episode, after the "ls -F"
where the listing of the same set of files that were presented,
correctly, in the previous episode, as

[ creatures  molecules           notes.txt  solar.pdf     ]
[ data       north-pacific-gyre  pizza.cfg  writing       ]

is now, with the addition of the newly created "thesis" directory,
presented as a single line (this may wrap in the submission!)

[ creatures/  data/  molecules/  north-pacific-gyre/  notes.txt  pizza.cfg  solar.pdf  thesis/  writing/    ]

some 102 characters wide which is not what the students would see
on the tutors terminal.

There are other examples of this, though I am sure that, as the lesson
contents change, the content of output boxes may well do so too, which
may explain some of the inconsistencies currently seen, however, I feel
it would be useful to stick to one terminal width for rendering output,
not least at the tutor will rarely alter the terminal width, once they
have arrived at a font-size that satisfies the viewing needs of the

@gcapes gcapes changed the title Post-Teaching Demo feedback (Sep 19, 2019): layout of text in Output boxes Llayout of text in Output boxes Nov 11, 2019
@gcapes gcapes changed the title Llayout of text in Output boxes Layout of text in Output boxes Nov 18, 2019
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@gcapes gcapes commented Nov 18, 2019

Thanks for this. The differences in output which do/don't show an Applications folder result from contributions from Mac/non-Mac users, and we should aim to pick one and stick with it.

Regarding the width of the output, it would probably make for easier reading if the width was more standardised.

I'd welcome a PR on each issue.

@gcapes gcapes changed the title Layout of text in Output boxes Standardize layout of text in Output boxes Dec 16, 2019
@gcapes gcapes added the help wanted label Jun 18, 2021
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