Poll Results: Command Line Usage

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Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

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About 22,000 CSS-Tricks visitors voted in the last poll about command line usage, which asked:

On average, how many commands do you run from the command line each work day?

The result: there is a lot of people at all the different levels. It’s no wonder it can be such a hot topic.

Here’s the results as a chart:

See the Pen uJjyD by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) on CodePen.

19% of people never use the command line at all. The largest group, 27%, only run a handful of commands a day.

18% run 10-50 commands, 15% run 50-100 commands, and 15% run 100-1000 commands. I think it’s interesting that this group, taken together (10-1000 commands a day) represent the largest number of people (48%).

The smallest group (6%) run over 1000 commands a day. Some people just live in the shell!

Personally, I’m in the 10-50 group. I’m typically doing things like firing up Grunt, starting a Rails server, and related things to get a dev environment set up.

The idea for the poll was based on the common side-conversation that always seems to accompany conversations about command line tools.

Say a new tool comes out that can only be used through the command line. Whatever it does, the end result is desirable. Some folks will be excited and be talking about it and using it. Some folks will think about using it but never get around to it because it’s a bit out of the comfort zone. Some people will bemoan the fact it’s a command line tool and write it off completely.

Then there will be some comments lambasting the non command line users. Some comments telling them there is nothing to be afraid of. It’s easy to agree with that, since of course learning more is always a good idea. But on the other hand, not everybody needs to know everything and there is some tools that, however nerdy, could benefit from a UI. Tools like CodeKit are proof they are desired and highly used.

I suspect tools like Grunt are both:

  1. Getting more people into the command line
  2. Making the command line less difficult
  3. Giving more bang-for-the-buck for learning it

If a new command line tool comes out these days that does something cool, chances are it already is a Grunt plugin or someone will make it one in short order. So now you don’t have to learn something new, you just include the Grunt plugin and configure it, which you’ve probably already done a number of times.

I’m also of the opinion there probably will never be a GUI for Grunt – at least not one that is any good – because what matters in Grunt is the configuration of plugins. Each plugin is so different it would require it’s own special UI unique to it, not something generic.

The most interesting bit I’ve learned here is how broad the spectrum is in command line usage, ranging all the way from zero experience to mastery. That’s much different that most things we discuss in web tech, so it’s good to keep in mind.

New poll soon.