Boost your command line productivity

This article was originally published in Medium.

So you’ve been using the command line for a while. You know how to navigate your system using cd. You are familiar with common commands like git. You might have got proficient with these commands, but what if I tell you that you can boost your efficiency even more. In this article, we will discuss two ways to streamline our workflow in the command line.

Aliases

Let’s start with aliases. Aliases are shortcuts used to reference a command. They help us minimize the amount of typing we have to do to run commands.

For example, if you are a developer then you are probably running a lot of git commands when working on different projects. Instead of running something like this: git commit -m "Initial commit", we can alias git commit -m to something shorter like gcm and do the same with fewer keystrokes.

To configure an alias we will need to edit our shell configuration file. You will be able to find this file in your home directory under the name .bashrc or .zshrc (depending on your shell). Open the file. Here we will declare the aliases with the following syntax.

bash
# Format
alias ALIAS="COMMAND"
# Example
alias gcm="git commit -m"

The next time you want to make a git commit you will only need to type gcm "Initial commit".

It might not seem like much now, but consider the number of times a developer creates a commit. Aliases are also handy when dealing with long commands. I have a lot of aliases like the following on my configuration files.

bash
alias bup="brew update && brew outdated && brew upgrade && brew cleanup"

If you find yourself running lengthy commands, consider creating an alias for it.

goto

Navigating your file system with the command line could be tedious if you’re not used to it. There is a tool called goto that makes this task easier. With this simple script, you will be able to create aliases to bookmark a directory. Once installed you can just run goto ALIAS and jump into the selected directory.

Go to the GitHub repo and follow the instructions to install the goto script. Then run the following command to create a new alias.

shell
# Format
goto -r ALIAS PATH
# Example
goto -r op /home/code/open-source/

By using the example above, I would only need to run goto op to access the bookmarked directory.

Conclusion

There are many other ways we can simplify our experience in the command line. This was just a sneak peek. Feel free to explore. What about creating a shell alias for goto? Don’t forget that setting up a development workflow depends on your personal needs. Please give these methods a try and get creative with your setup.


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