Work Faster with Basic Shell Commands
Writing your own shell scripts may seem a little intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple and can drastically improve your workflow. Any sequence of commands you would run from the command line you can put into a shell script.
For example, when I want to start coding on a project, I usually end up opening my editor from the terminal and a new tab in my browser to view the project. This doesn’t take very long, but since it’s something I do multiple times every day, I figured I should try to automate it.
Let’s Scriptify It
I wanted to be able to pull up my editor and open the new browser tab right from the terminal so I came up with the following script to do just that:
# !/bin/sh open -g 'http://localhost/chris-schmitz.com' subl .
Breaking this down, here’s what each line does:
# !/bin/sh– Invokes the shell, a standard starting line for a shell script
open -g 'http://localhost/chris-schmitz.com'– Opens the URL for the project in a new tab of my default browser
subl .– Opens the current directory in Sublime Text 2 (using TextMate the command would be
Now, assuming I saved the file as open.sh, I can run
sh open.sh from the command line to open my editor and the browser tab. This was a great next step, but I thought I could do a little better.
A Shortcut for the Shortcut
I love TextExpander and any time I have text that I need to type on a regular basis I make a snippet for it. I figured this shell script is a perfect candidate for that.
I didn’t want to have to create a new file and then use a snippet to insert those three lines, so I use the following snippet to create the file with those three lines all in one step from the terminal.
echo "# !/bin/shnnopen -g 'http://localhost/%fill:site_name%'nsubl ." >; open.sh
It’s just a one-liner with some escaped characters and line breaks that get inserted into the open.sh file. I set the shortcut for the snippet to qlp, short for Quick Launch Project.
Now I can create these shell scripts with ease, but I still didn’t like having to type
sh open.sh all the time. I decided I wanted to make it shorter, so I aliased that to
dev with the following command:
alias dev='sh open.sh'
Note: I’m using ZSH in my terminal, but I believe this command is the same for Bash.
My New Workflow
Now when I create a new project, all I have to do to get setup is:
cdto the directory
- Expand my
- Run the
devcommand, and I’m ready to go
The main takeaway from this shouldn’t be the actual code, but the idea of how easy it is to automate repetitive tasks. A few basic shell commands can go a long way.
If you want to learn more about shell scripting, I highly recommend the Bash Guide for Beginners.