What is hidden ?

Lex Spoon lex at cc.gatech.edu
Thu Aug 20 00:04:03 UTC 1998

David Stes writes:
 > I don't quite like the word "private" because it seems to indicate that
 > you would want to "forbid" the user to use some methods.  That's not the
 > case. 
 > The word "hidden" better describes it, since it is more because I myself,
 > the person who writes some objects, would like to hide some methods. 
 > If a user turns the flag "show hidden" to true (perhaps even globally)
 > then I don't care about that, since then the user explicitely chose to
 > see all methods of all categories (whether the category name starts with a
 > dot or not).
 > To compare with a Unix file browser, a Squeak category is somewhat like a
 > Unix directory. 
 > A "private" directory is one for which I do : chmod 700 mydir
 > A "hidden" directory is something like .mydir
 > Depending on the "mode" of the browser, .mydir and its contents may be
 > hidden, or visible like any other directory ... 
 > The point of hiding is not necessarily to make it secret, or difficult to
 > use. 

To throw a little more into the fray, I've noticed after a few years
that the dot trick for Unix is really useful in one specific case:
hiding the dot files in a person's home directory.  In other cases,
it's only served to cause surprises (ooohh, what's this .warez
directory?)  Thus, I don't think the dot trick is justified in Unix.
It would be better to fix the one case and have an "etc" or "conf"
directory for config files, and then to remove dot-hiding altogether.

To toss up another example, DOS has had hidden files for a very long
time.  On a typical DOS/Windows system of today, there are something
like 5 hidden files, out of 1000+ files total.  The feature has been
around a long time, but for some reasone it is not being used very

Both cases suggest that people really don't benefit from having to do
an explicit search to get "the whole picture".  At the least, if such
a mechanism is being used, I believe there should be some indication
that something has been hidden.  Such an indication could be adding a
"(...)" to the bottom of a listing, or simply coloring hidden entries
a darker color.  That way, users will know when it is valuable to
bother with a "show all" command.


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