Have you ever wondered how extremely prolific bloggers do it? How is it possible to crank out thousands of blog posts per year without creating a giant stinking pile of mediocre doo doo? Like most deep mysteries it’s not deep and there are no mysteries. The spewers, people who post like teenage girls tweet, use two basic strategies:
- Multiple authors: The heroic image of the lone blogger waging holy war against a sea of Internet idiocy is largely a myth. Many popular prolific blogs are the work of many hands. The editor at Analyze the Data not the Drivel eschews this tactic. Apparently he’s an incontinent and argumentative prima donna that sane people steer clear of.
- Content recycling: In elementary school this was called copying. Now that we’re all grown up we use terms like, “excerpting”, “abstracting”, and my favorite “re-purposing.” The basic idea is simple. Take something you’ve written elsewhere and repackage it as something new. Hey, all the cool kids are doing it!
The following is a slightly edited new appendix I have just added to the JOD manual. I am working to properly publish the JOD manual mostly so I can say that I’ve written a legitimate, albeit strange and queer, book.
I created this post by running the LaTeX code of the manual appendix through the excellent utility pandoc, tweaking the resulting markdown, and then using pandoc again to generate html for this blog. pandoc is a great “re-purposing” tool!
Finally, re-purposing is not entirely cynical. The act of moving material from one medium to another exposes problems. I found a few editing errors while creating this post that eluded my LaTeX eyes. If you find more this is your chance to tell me what a moron I am.
Turning JOD Dump Script Tricks
Dump script generation is my favorite JOD feature. Dump scripts serialize JOD dictionaries; they are mainly used to back up dictionaries and interact with version control systems. However, dump scripts are general J scripts and can do much more! Maintaining a stable of healthy JOD dictionaries is easier if you can turn a few dump script tricks.1
Flattening reference paths: Open JOD dictionaries define a reference path. For example, if you open the following dictionaries:
When objects are retrieved each dictionary on the path is searched in reference path order. If there are no compelling reasons to maintain separate dictionaries you can improve JOD retrieval performance and simplify dictionary maintenance by flattening all or part of the path.
To flatten the reference path do:
The collapsed path /smugflat/utils will return the same objects as the longer path. It is important to understand that the collapsed dictionary smugflat does not necessarily contain the same objects found in the three original dictionaries smugdev, smug and image. If objects with the same name exist in the original dictionaries only the first one found will be in the collapsed dictionary.
Merging dictionaries: If two dictionaries contain no overlapping objects it might make sense to merge them. This is easily achieved with dump scripts. To merge two or more dictionaries do:
Be careful when merging dictionaries. If there are common objects the last object loaded is the one retained in the merged dictionary.
Updating master file parameters: When a new parameter is added to jodparms.ijs it will not be available in existing dictionaries. With dump scripts you can rebuild existing dictionaries and update parameters. To rebuild a dictionary with new or custom parameters do:
Before executing complex dump script procedures back up your JOD dictionary folders and play with dump scripts on test dictionaries. Dump scripts are essential JOD dictionary maintenance tools but like most powerful tools they must be used with care.