What is the purpose of the command interpreter?

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

Purpose of Command Interpreters

Command interpreters serve many purposes and are more useful than graphical user interfaces in some cases. Details about these cases are given as follows −

  • Command 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 interpreters can be used.
  • Scientists and engineers often used command interpreters in scientific environments. Technically advanced users also prefer command interpreters as compared to graphical user interfaces.
  • People with visual disabilities use command interpreters as they cannot work with graphical user interfaces. Commands and instructions can be displayed using braille displays in command interpreters.

Modern use of Command Interpreters

Many advanced users use powerful command interpreters even though graphical user interfaces are more common. Some of the systems where command 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 Windows Command Prompt with a CLI environment.

Comparison between Command Interpreters and Graphical User Interfaces

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

Updated on: 22-Jun-2020

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