Recap, Humble Terminal and Kloudi

Nitish and I have been writing this newsletter for about 3 months now and we wanted to celebrate this writing streak by giving our readers, new and old, a small recap of some of the posts that we had written so far. We would highly recommend going through this recap as it would help you connect the dots about Kloudi and introduce you to some of the terms that we will be using. 

In case you don’t need a refresher, then you can skip the Recap section and simply jump onto the next one.


Recap

We started building Kloudi because we felt we were spending more time navigating through tools than doing work. In our post, 🍎 Our Newton’s Metaphor we had written:

Imagine if you had multiple Facebooks/Twitter/Instagram where cognitively it's already impossible to consume all the information but you have to, since it's no longer your personal social calling but your bread and butter. For some it may even lead to life and death situations.

We use the rest of the post to introduce two ideas - Paradox Of Choice and Big Bang of Technology - which in our opinion has introduced Entropy in the Universe of Technology, a concept we borrowed from Thermodynamics.

Moving forward, in the next post ⚛️ Elements in the Universe of Technology we try to give structure to the Universe of Technology by defining Entities and Attributes. 

Entities are primitives that people in technology companies work with on a day-to-day basis. Entities captured in workflows help move the needle towards a goal/outcome.

And finally in the post, 🔬 Modelling Entropy in the Universe we present a mathematical model to contain Entropy.  

Kloudi summarises any interaction with a tool and its outcome, involving a developer in an engineering ecosystem, through an N-Dimension System by taking a cartesian product of Entities...

Though written from a developer’s perspective, the mathematical model enables Kloudi to manage and contain the Entropy introduced by the increasing number of tools.


Humble Terminal and it’s continuing resurgence

Wikipedia definition for a terminal looks like this:

...virtual terminal (VT) – is a conceptual combination of the keyboard and display for a computer user interface.

Terminals and Command Line Interface were invented at a time when User Interface (UI) didn’t exist. Their physical or virtual form historically have been the barebones structure that unites all Entities of an Operating System. At the time terminals were the only way through which computer engineers and developers, the users of computers in that era, could control every aspect of their systems. 

From working with APIs to combining individual programs to create your own workflows, terminals were built to get work done fast and efficiently - turning tedious chores into quick tasks. So much so that despite various challenges and shortcomings, it is still widely adopted in its original form by the developer community to this date.

Terminals have continuously evolved since. Don Norman, best known for his book The Design of Everyday Things, wrote in 2008:

Command line interfaces . Once that was all we had. Then they disappeared, replaced by what we thought was a great advance: GUIs. GUIs were - and still are - valuable, but they fail to scale to the demands of today's systems. So now command line interfaces are back again, hiding under the name of search. Now you see them, now you don't. Now you see them again. And they will get better and better with time: mark my words, that is my prediction for the future of interfaces.

From terminals in games to search and chatbots to now the new command panels built within tools like Superhuman and Notion we have seen a resurgence of terminal and command line interfaces time and again. The question to ask here is, why do people still resort back to terminals? 

Simply put, UI alone doesn’t scale for the entropy introduced by today’s ever expanding number tools. However on the contrary, terminals have been able to oversee every interaction for operating systems of the past and future. So the real question that we need to ask is, can a terminal for tools contain the entropy in the Universe?


Kloudi - A Terminal for your tools

Reimagining Terminal as a Horizontal Layer

One might wonder why go back to redesigning a tool that existed even before UI or why take a horizontal approach. To set context, let us draw parallels from Figma and what it did for design. Kwok Chan in his famous article Why Figma Wins writes

Design is all of the conversations between designers and PMs about what to build. It is the mocks and prototypes and the feedback on them. It is the handoff of specs and assets to engineers and how easy it is for them to implement them. Building for this entire process doesn’t take away the importance of designers—it gives them a seat at the table for the core decisions a company makes.

Building for everyone in the design process and not just designers is also the foundation of Figma’s core loop, which drives their growth and compounding scale.

Figma’s approach was to build horizontally. They added functionality that helps better complete a design workflow for all its stakeholders - be it actions around design or collaborations of designers and stakeholders, Figma brought everything under one banner. 

By reimagining terminals as a horizontal layer on top of tools, we want to bring all the tools and workflows of a developer and technology team under one banner. Through this we are ensuring that Kloudi not only increases productivity but brings consistency across the tooling ecosystem. In this way Kloudi functions like a curator for your daily workflows.

Minimizing interaction friction through queries

In our journey of understanding the Universe of Technology and how each of its entities affect entropy, we realised that the fundamental metric was interactions. Like friction, multiple points of interaction across people and tools cause a loss of productivity and increase cognitive load.

Interactions could be of 2 types either mental or physical. Mental interactions are mental models with regard to entities and workflows. For eg: Debug an issue using breadcrumbs present in Sentry and logs present in Datadog. Physical interactions are interactions between 2 people or between a tool and user with regard to an entity. For eg: Actually going and navigating across Sentry and Datadog to search for breadcrumbs and logs respectively.

In the quest of reducing such friction we realised that the trigger behind any of the above mentioned interaction is a query. In terminals of the past, queries were translated to commands before being typed in using a keyboard. To ease it even more, users of Kloudi are given the capability to perform actions on their tools through natural language queries. This ensures that a lot of interaction friction gets reduced.

UI for your queries

Terminals of the past had suffered from the problem of having no user interface (UI). This ultimately led to innovation of graphical user interfaces and more wider adoption of computers and technology in the world. This is the final building block for a Kloudi. While building Kloudi we ensure that depending on what query a user has entered an interface of that entity will populate just in time so as to make sure that users also get visual feedback for their queries.

These are the the fundamental building blocks for Kloudi. There are a lot more nuggets and snippets built within Kloudi, each designed to stay in sync with natural behaviours and additionally help ease and formulate faster workflows. I will leave it for you, our user / reader to explore and discover your way around Kloudi.

- Sneh and Nitish


Appendix