Tue 23 Jul 2013
This (‘/’) is a slash. It is used to separate pieces of paths and filenames. It is used by all the UNIX systems I am aware of, the Mac (that’s right, I said UNIX and the Mac separately, and I will continue to), and URLs around the world. On a US QWERTY keyboard, it is on the same key as the ‘?’. It is located in a convenient place so that a touch typist can sit down at virtually any keyboard type a filename and know where it is. a/b/c/d/e/file.c. Wow, that’s easy.
This (‘\’) is a backslash. It is used by Microsoft to separate pieces of paths and filenames. It is used by Microsoft Windows. On a US QWERTY keyboard, it is usually above the enter key, except in some cases where it is in the same place but ½ the size, or other cases where it is located at the bottom of the keyboard. a\b\c\d\e\file.c. I can’t say that was exactly painful but it wasn’t as easy. It just wasn’t. Also, this could just be me, it looks funny.
Sometimes when we start a project, we do something to differentiate ourselves from other similar projects that came first. Sometimes these things don’t serve much purpose except to say “See? I’m not doing what you did, I’m doing something different”. It could be that’s how the backslash came about.
Regardless of why it’s here with us, it is time for it to be put to rest. Support both for a few versions if it makes you comfortable. Or just make a clean break. I’m OK with either one.
Next time on “Dan Rants About Things That Don’t Make Much Sense to Him”, I’ll cover the Mac using the Control+Click as a Right Button Click even though two button mice have been widely available since Nirvana was a garage band. I’ll cover drive letters in an upcoming episode but I just exposed the uselessness and confusion of the backslash and I don’t want to stick it to one company twice in a row. Plus we don’t have to do it all at once. c:/a/b/d/e/file.c. I can live with that.