Archive for the ‘Command Line’ Category

Crafting a custom word count service

I just happened to need to do a lot of word counts today so I put together a service to make my life easier. While, I performed my initial work on Mojave but the same approach works all the way to Big Sur and, presumably, the upcoming macOS Malibu Barbie.

Open Automator

To get started, launch automator and create a new document.

Select Quick Action, Choose from the new document dialog:

Add Scripting

Drop in a Run Shell Script and then an Apple Script. You can search from them in the top-left corner. Drag them in order into the right panel.

I used /bin/bash for my shell script, shocking, I know, as I am well known for my love of all things csh. Feel free to use whatever shell suits you. The first non-argument shell variable ($1 here) corresponds to highlighted text, which can be used by the system contextual menu:

echo `echo $1 | wc -w` words. `echo $1 | wc -c` characters.

Switch the pop-up for piping output (“passing input”) from “to stdin” to “as arguments”. This allows the AppleScript to read the selected data and present a dialog. If you forget, you’ll get empty input and something like “1 words, 0 characters” all the time.

on run {input, parameters}
    display dialog input as string buttons {"OK"}
end run

Save and Run

Save the action. I called mine “Word Count”.

The action automatically saves to ~/Library/Services, in case you want to find or delete it in the future.

% ls
Word Count.workflow/

Your new quick action automatically adds a custom service to your contextual pop-ups. Just highlight anything you want to count, from text on a web page to your work in a document and open the contextual menu:

Make sure the output looks reasonable. For easiest testing, copy the text to your clipboard and then use wc directly in terminal.

And, then boom, you are done.

Let me know if this was helpful.

Executing command-line directly from Xcode

I got pulled into one of those conversations where I end up saying, “Fine, I’ll put up a post about it” and this is the post. Yes, you can test and run command-line apps directly from Xcode but I pretty much never do. It’s a pain with few benefits. That said, here’s how you do it.

Arguments

Let’s say you need arguments. Open your scheme (⌘<) and select the Run > Arguments tab. Add the arguments you want to pass on launch one at a time. Double-click to edit any argument:

The arguments are vended byCommandLine.arguments. Either count the array or use CommandLine.argc to find out how many arguments you’re dealing with.

print(CommandLine.arguments)
print(CommandLine.argc)

Counter-intuitively, Xcode does not automatically quote the arguments for you. This produces five arguments, not three, or six if you include the command itself:

["/Users/ericasadun/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/Test-gwehknnihlcsiucsovtbnlrdtfun/Build/Products/Debug/Test", "first", "second", "third", "fourth", "fifth"]
6

And what do you expect from the following?

You get this if you run directly in Xcode’s console:

["/Users/ericasadun/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/Test-gwehknnihlcsiucsovtbnlrdtfun/Build/Products/Debug/Test", "first", "several items at once", "third"]
4
Program ended with exit code: 0

But if you set your code to execute using Terminal:

Launching: '/Users/ericasadun/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/Test-gwehknnihlcsiucsovtbnlrdtfun/Build/Products/Debug/Test'
Working directory: '/Users/ericasadun/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/Test-gwehknnihlcsiucsovtbnlrdtfun/Build/Products/Debug'
3 arguments:
argv[0] = '/Users/ericasadun/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/Test-gwehknnihlcsiucsovtbnlrdtfun/Build/Products/Debug/Test'
argv[1] = 'first'
argv[2] = 'several'
["/Users/ericasadun/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/Test-gwehknnihlcsiucsovtbnlrdtfun/Build/Products/Debug/Test", "first", "several"]
3

Xcode’s Crazy Terminal Option

If you’re running anything with direct key input (using POSIX termios/raw mode) or curses, running in the console doesn’t work. So Xcode provides a way to run those utilities in the terminal. Visit Run > Options and scroll all the way down.

This feature is buggy as hell, produces ridiculous amounts of excess text (see this), can take a significant time to launch, and even more time for Xcode to realize the process has finished. It is impossible to use with paths that use spaces (“warning: working directory doesn't exist: '/Volumes/Kiku/Xcode/Derived'“).

I don’t like it. I don’t use it. But it exists.

Sane Command-Line Execution

Unless you’re dealing with things like automation and such, you can try out your compiled command-line apps by dragging your executable from the Products group onto the terminal. This places the path to your build at the prompt. Type out your arguments and press return:

However, I prefer to use a Copy File build phase. Select your Target > Build Phases, click plus (+) and add the executable. (I use absolute path and disable “only when installing”.) This lets you install directly to  standard locations like /usr/local/bin or ~/bin, or if you don’t want to place it there until it is stable and ready for deployment, you can use a development folder:

Assuming your destination is in your shell’s path, start a new shell for the executable to be picked up the first time. After that, you can compile and run as you like.