BASH, but pretty

All code can be (should be…) pretty! It has done enough work to be worth it. There are no standards like Python’s PEP here, but here’s what I do. I don’t see any reason it can’t be good looking.

1. Add title block

: << 'NOTES'
Use this script to look cool.

Title: A Script
Author: Wes Jones
Date: 11/2021

echo "Start your script here\!"

This offers a simple block that is similar to other languages. I find that the header block allows me to easily include links for references that contain links to guides or manuals.

How does it work?

The colon is a null operator, which accepts data from the << – essentially piping the heredoc. It’s a cool trick that I found while reading about redirecting a heredoc.

2. ShellCheck

If you only do one thing from this list – do this. Nothing else really matters. I should have made this the first point! Shellcheck catches all those anti-patterns that you’ve just dealt with over the years. It’s as close as you can get to a language standard.

The process is easy enough, if you rely on a tool like Visual Studio Code you can install the plugin to get syntax highlighting showing potential issues:

If you use vi or edit remotely you can install ShellCheck from your favorite repository and get similar output – maybe even more useful:

Get more information for ShellCheck here:

3. Use arrays more

I always used to say that if you’re using arrays in BASH you should switch to another language that is better for data processing. Learning about sub-shells outputting to arrays changed this notion. I still recommend reaching for Python or the likes for data processing, but don’t be so quick to dismiss the opportunities of using BASH arrays.

arr=( 3 5 7 )
for n in ${arr[*]}; do
    echo "file-$n.txt"

It’s hard to see in real life so here is a better example.

arr=( "$(find ~/Desktop/test -type f -name "*.xml")" )

for file in ${arr[*]}; do
    mv "$file" /data/xmls/

One of the most useful things I find is directly handling a sub-command directly into an array. Obviously there are many options here ($(ls ~/Desktop/test/*.xml)) – it comes down to the data splitting. It’s easy to take advantage of the organized data at this point.

Read more here:

Quick list

A few last thoughts. All of these could be their own post or in some cases multiple chapters in a book.