Command Line Interpreters

A command line interpreter allows the user to interact with a program using commands in the form of text lines. It was frequently used till the 1970’s. However, in modern times many command line interpreters are replaced by graphical user interfaces and menu-driven interfaces.

Usage of Command Line Interpreters

Command line interpreters are more useful than graphical user interfaces in some cases. Details about these cases are given as follows:

  • Command line interpreters have a large range of commands and queries available for different operations. Also, it is much faster to type than to click as is done using graphical user interfaces.
  • There are some systems that don’t have enough resources to support graphical user interfaces. In those cases, command line interpreters can be used.
  • Scientists and engineers often used command line interpreters in scientific environments. Technically advanced users also prefer command line interpreters as compared to graphical user interfaces.
  • People with visual disabilities use command line interpreters as they cannot work with graphical user interfaces. Commands and instructions can be displayed using braille displays in command line interpreters.

Comparison between Command Line Interpreters and Graphical User Interfaces

Command line interpreters work on text-based interfaces where the users can type their requests and queries as required and obtain the desired results. In comparison to this, graphical user interfaces contain all the information in visual form where icons, windows etc. can be used to access and manipulate data.

Experienced users find command line interpreters much more useful as it is faster to type commands and get results. Naive users prefer graphical user interfaces as they are in pictorial format and easy to use.

Modern use of Command Line Interpreters

Many advanced users use powerful command line interpreters even though graphical user interfaces are more common. Some of the systems where command line interpreters are used are −

  • PHP has a shell for interactive use which is called php-cli.
  • Ruby has command shell for interactive use.
  • Some Linux distributions have the bash implementation of the Unix shell.
  • Junos and Cisco IOS routers are configured using command line interpreters.
  • Windows has a command prompt (cmd) with a CLI environment.

The following shows the command prompt provided by Windows −

Command Prompt