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Learn to Love the Command Line

The command line interface (CLI) offers immense potential to savvy users because of the way tedious, repetitive processes can be automated on the fly. Bulk processing of files and other objects is ideally suited to a CLI environment. There are also many standard tools that lack graphical applications or which have more flexibility on the command line, such as the git version control software. But it can be intimidating to begin using the CLI, as a clunky syntax and knowledge of ancillary topics like “standard output” and file mode permissions become hurdles.

This workshop will provide a solid footing to understand the common Bash shell and command line operations in general. We will cover topics like: command syntax, variables, file operations, basic loops, standard output/error, essential shell commands, and the use of a few popular programs like the sed text editor and grep search utility. Particular attention will be paid to using multiple CLI tools in harmony, piping the output of a command through a series of operations to achieve a desired end result. We will conclude with a brief overview of a few GLAM-specific use cases such as: data munging with CSV files, image file format identification and conversion, bulk renaming, and MARC or XML metadata processing. Attendees will walk away with an understanding of the command line and some optional “homework” related to common GLAM tools.

Workshop materials are available here. Attendees should ensure they have the Prerequisites before the workshop starts.