Elroyjetson

Refactor for simplicity and dependencies

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A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Drang, a blogger you should really read, posted a note about his process for setting up directories for the new year. He files things by year and month. He prefers the month to be 0 padded. Here is how he explained he did it.


mkdir 2017
cd 2017
jot -w %02d 12 | xargs mkdir

When I read this I admired the fact that he put in the effort to automate this, but this process bothered me a little.

My first issue with Dr. Drang’s solution was that it uses four separate commands across three lines to accomplish. My second issue was the use of the jot command. Jot is a great utility except for the fact that it doesn’t ship preinstalled on Linux. It does ship preinstalled on FreeBSD and macOS.

I am always looking for ways to eliminate dependencies and this command is full of them. I recalled that mkdir had a -p option which creates intermediary directories if they do not exist, so I thought if we could stick to Bash, a common shell, and utilities that come preinstalled on most *nix’s that would be better so I came up with this:


mkdir -p $(printf "2017/%02i " $(seq 1 12))

Feeling clever, I decided to email Dr. Drang and see if he had thought about refactoring and eliminating a couple of the dependencies. We exchanged a couple of emails and his basic response was that he only uses macOS and he was already familiar with the jot command. He also indicated he was not a fan of the $() Bash syntax. Fair enough. He even wrote another post to discuss things further, it seems I wasn’t the only one that emailed him other solutions. This was his new solution:


jot -w 2017/%02d 12 | xargs mkdir -p

Certainly more compact, but it still doesn’t seem like the most elegant solution to me. After giving it some more thought, my original solution wasn’t very elegant either. I decided to consider using brace expansion in Bash. So I came up with a solution that is both more compact and something that appears more elegant:


mkdir -p 2017/{01..12}

This solution eliminates all other commands besides the use of mkdir and the only dependency is Bash. I am not sure a solution exists that could be more compact than this but if anyone knows of one let me know.

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