Why Click When You Can Type 51 Characters?

C.Q. Ritty

The Glamorous Life of a Systems Engineer (SE)

Hello World! Today’s column is specifically addressed to all of my grey-haired engineering colleagues. You know, the ones who reminisce about routers the size of refrigerators, the ones who know what coaxial cables are, and the ones who remember the good old days before Wi-Fi. These seasoned professionals are the last holdouts who still use the CLI to configure networking and security platforms.

For you contemporary folks (which I am told represent the vast majority of the readers), CLI stands for “command line interface.” This is an arcane way to configure networking devices using cryptic commands from ancient languages. For example, if you want to create a very simple packet filter for your Cisco router, all you have to do is accurately type the following:

configure terminal
access-list 100 permit ip any
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
ip access-group 100 in

What can I say? Welcome to the 80s, where every typo is a whole new adventure.

Millennials or Gen-Zers can certainly show us all a better way. How about a graphical user interface (GUI) with pretty charts and buttons? No one uses old mystic spells like the one above to setup their iPhones, instead they simply point, click, or tap. This GUI-based method is how you should configure your switches, routers, and firewalls too. Additionally, you even get drop-down menus and friendly wizards to hold your hand during complex operations. In short, GUIs are simpler, more elegant, and much less error prone than the old fashioned (dare I say obsolete) CLI with its annoying blinking cursor.

So old folks, AKA Luddites, stop telling me that “real” engineers don’t use GUIs. It is time for you to retire those outdated manuals on network configuration. Come out of the dark ages and start enjoying the magic of clicking buttons and making things happen. Embrace the future – your fingers will thank you for a break from all of that relentless typing.


Stay tuned for more nerdy columns about my experiences as an SE.

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