histo: The shape of things to come

Considering it’s been a year and a half since I started cataloguing console-based software, and it’s been more or less a two-a-day post rate, it might be a surprise to you if I say I’m actually looking forward the next 100 or so programs. It’s a bit of a surprise to me too. There are a couple of reasons for it though.

For one, thing almost everything that I have left has been added in the past year. That means it’s either something I stupidly overlooked — like head, which I use almost every day but somehow managed to miss 😕 — or it’s new enough to be under development or currently maintained.

That won’t be the case every time, but I anticipate a lot fewer duds in the next 100 programs than I had in the last 1000.

There’s another reason: Some of the stuff is genuinely cool. A lot of the past 880+ posts have circled around time-honored software — some of it as old as computers themselves. But new minds have since taken a seat at the keyboard, and Die Neuen Kinder have a way of looking at things that is different than their parents and grandparents.

Here’s an example for you: histo.


Until about a month ago, I thought for sure that the gold standard for console-based data plotting was gnuplot. It’s been around for three decades and shows no signs of dying.

But gnuplot’s console mode is sort of an afterthought. gnuplot does a lot more in the graphical arena, even if it can spit out a line graph drawn with asterisks.

histo isolates that single task and handles it with a lot more style. You can see the results above.

You’ll get the same — or at least similar — results in a virtual console; histo doesn’t limit you to an X-based environment, like spark did.

An added bonus: histo can handle streaming data too, so it’s possible to pipe active values through histo, and see a continuous diagram.

One thing I don’t like about histo: Negative values are shows as shaded blocks, rather than pulling them below the X axis. I realize that’s a small complaint, but it seems to me that for as well as histo handles resizing to a terminal and managing a stream of unpredictable data, it shouldn’t take much more effort to show a proper downward track for negative values.

But what do I know. I couldn’t build a program like it if my life depended on it. Knowing histo is around — and other clever tools like it — means I have a lot to look forward to.

One thought on “histo: The shape of things to come

  1. Pingback: Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat | Techrights

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