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Rich Command Line: Pluggable command response rendering Disclosure Number: IPCOM000228793D
Publication Date: 2013-Jul-08
Document File: 4 page(s) / 136K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


This publication describes a means by which command-line responses can be processed by a selectable set of Response Filters, which present a richer user experience than is traditionally seen in command-line environments.

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Rich Command Line: Pluggable command response rendering

Interaction with a computer system via a command-line is typically a text-only interaction, and for good reason. A text-based interaction provides a lowest-common-denominator approach that provides lightweight access to a system from a wide range of client devices. However, significant benefits can be realised by interleaving a traditional command-line invocation with an inline graphical response. This disclosure describes a way in which text-only command-line interactions can be enhanced whilst preserving the command-line paradigm.

Command-Line Paradigms

    There are principally two paradigms used in command-line interaction, both of which appear very similar to the user but have different implementations. The technique described here is applicable to both paradigms. The paradigms are:

Serial console interaction - here, a client system sends individual keystrokes to a


server, which, on receipt of a completed command, performs some operation and the resulting text is transmitted to the client in an unstructured form. Examples here would be telnet/ssh interaction with a server system. Command/response interaction - Here, the client application, which is usually


custom-designed for interaction with the server builds up a completed command before transmitting the whole command to the server. The server then returns a completed response, which is displayed as a textual result for the user. Examples here would be interaction with databases through console utilities such as mysql, where a well-defined protocol exists to execute SQL queries on the server and return the resulting rows to the client, which renders them in a text

form on the console.
State-of-the-art in graphical interaction

    It is not uncommon for command-line utilities to invoke a graphical response. For example, the "R" statistical analysis tool provides a command-line in which graphs can be composed, with the resulting graph displayed in a separate window:

    There has also been an attempt to provide some simple graphical capability to the Linux Terminal with w3m -- see:

    However, this provides a very limited, non-interactive capability that effectively pastes graphics over the top of specific terminal locations.

This disclosure describes a means by which interactive graphical output can

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be displayed inline with the main console, and with a user experience that retains the text-based console feel for users who require it, whilst providing enhanced

capability for other users with a need.

In brief, the disclosed technique is as follows:

Use a web browser (or equivalent) as the client application.


Access the server application through a new protocol on the server that is aware


of the client capabilities (e.g. a REST API over HTTP for a web browser). Provide the same means of initiating commands as the transitional text-based