Browser-based command lines are awesome

May 25, 2011 01:42 · 272 words · 2 minute read

Command lines are an amazingly great way to get things done using the keyboard, and using the keyboard is a way to do many things faster than reaching for the mouse. Of course, I’m a geek and not everyone likes command lines. But, many geeks do… and, I think that what we think of as a command line can move way beyond what a command line was in the ’70s.

TermKit recently got a good deal of attention, and rightly so. Steven Wittens has created a beautiful command shell that runs in a dedicated browser.

We did a good bit of command line experimentation on the Bespin project, and Joe Walker has continued that experimentation with the GCLI project. GCLI has been pushing in some directions that Joe has had in mind for a long time (a command line interface that is also mouse-friendly). At work, we’ve got some big plans for that one. also has a command line (not yet GCLI-based) in their slick Cloud9 IDE.

There’s also been Ubiquity, which had a “natural language” take on the command line. A few months ago, Ian Bicking created his take on a browser-based command shell with jsshell.

All of these are exclusive of the many JavaScript REPLs that exist and have varying and interesting sets of features.

All of these are something that we could loosely call a “webby CLI”. So, I’ve set up a webby-cli googlegroup for people who want to talk about the concepts, projects and niggling implementation details around bringing a great command line experience into browsery environments. Join us, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.