ZSH has lots of great expansion and auto completion features and I have shown you many of them. One more completion feature I want to show you is command arguments completion. With this completion of command line parameters you can auto complete the arguments of your command line tools. Many completion definitions are already included in ZSH, many more can be installed via your package manager.
If one thing annoys me then it's when the shell history doesn't handle multiple simultaneous shell sessions properly. Once you close a shell instance, its complete history is written to the history file. And when you close the second instance, it writes its whole history in one go, too. The result is that I have to go through all history entries of the second instance to come to the last entry of the first one (if they're not already deleted because the history of the second shell was longer than the maximum history size or because the shell is configured to replace the whole history instead of appending new entries).
I hope, you're familiar with parameter scopes, i.e. local and global variables. Global variables are visible in all contexts including subshells, functions and what not. Local variables are only visible in the current scope (e.g. a function).
Today I want to show you some examples of parameter expansion or parameter substitution as it is called in Bash. I've already used parameter expansion a few times in this series but now I want to show you how it works (at least some basics, I don't want to report the whole manual here).
Have you ever wondered why ZSH provides so many features but is still so fast? That's because of its autoloading mechanism. Functions can be marked as empty so they aren't loaded before they are executed the first time. This saves a lot of memory and much processing power.
Yesterday I told you about the chpwd() hook function. Today I want to go one step further and round up this topic. As you might have found out (or maybe you knew it already or at least guessed it), there are also other hook functions and today I want to present you some.
There is a number of magic functions called hook functions in ZSH which are automatically executed under certain circumstances. One of these functions is chpwd() and it is executed each time you change the current working directory.
One unique feature in ZSH is that you can redirect streams to multiple outputs or inputs simultaneously. With this multi-stream redirection you can, e.g., redirect STDOUT OR STDERR of a program to more than one file at the same time without using a command line tool such as tee.
By default, the ZSH auto completion is very rough. This seems very weird when you think of how powerful ZSH's expansion system is where you can expand any expression with the TAB key. But when you hit TAB to complete something, the only thing you can do is to toggle through a very basic list of files or commands.
But in fact, the ZSH completion system is very powerful. And when I say that, I mean very powerful. ZSH has a completely programmable completion system. For a long time, this has been a killer feature of ZSH. It still is, but other shells such as Bash have now implemented this as well. But in some areas, the ZSH completion system might still be the better one.
It often happens that you type a command, hit enter and then notice that you spelled the command incorrectly and your shell tells you something like:
zsh: command not found: wrongcommand
That is not a big problem, but especially when your command is very long, it is sometimes tedious to jump to the first word and correct it. You might configure your HOME key to do that, but sometimes this is not possible. It would be very convenient if the shell would not just say that you misspelled the command but also give you some alternative you'd only have to confirm with a keystroke. Well, ZSH can do that.
Have you ever stumbled upon this: you write a shell script which works with variables containing spaces and suddenly the whole script breaks? This is because most shells automatically split strings on spaces. This is some ancient behavior and in most cases it is just a pain in the ass.
You are probably familiar with globbing. Globbing is a way to select files on the command line based on a simple pattern. Newer versions of Bash can do a lot more, but I'll show you what the Z Shell can do.
Welcome to the first article of this year's Advent calendar series. The last Advent calendar was extremely successful so I thought it would be a good idea to continue this.
The topic for the Advent calendar series 2011 is “24 Outstanding ZSH Gems” because the Z Shell is my absolute favorite shell. There's nothing ZSH can't do except the dishes. In my opinion it's much more powerful than any other shell out there. If you are not a ZSH user (yet?), you're still very welcome to enjoy this series as well. Maybe then you'll make the switch. And if not: some features also work similarly in Bash, although they might be not so comfortable there.
Now let's begin with programmable renaming of files or batch renaming. That sounds very abstract, but let me show you what I mean.