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Rich Command Line: Suggestions for command alternatives

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000234003D
Publication Date: 2014-Jan-07
Document File: 4 page(s) / 92K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


A mechanism is described whereby a computing system can recommend a set of commands that could be used to fix an error that has been reported by a command that the user has attempted to execute.

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Rich Command Line: Suggestions for command alternatives

When interacting with a computer system via a command-line, it is common for a command to fail and report an error message, due either to a user mistyping the command, or because the system environment was not as expected. The steps that must be taken to rectify the error are often predictable, but cannot be automatically performed by the computer system because the operations are potentially disruptive if they were not actually the user's intention.

    For example, consider the case when a storage controller administrator wants to connect a disk in the storage controller to a host system. On the IBM SVC product, this is accomplished as follows:
$ mkvdiskhostmap -host host1 vdisk1

    However, the command will fail if the specified disk (vdisk1 in this case) is already connected to another host. This reports an error to the user, but there are two alternative ways to resolve the error:

Remove the mapping from vdisk1 to the other host.


Force the mapping, which will mean that the disk is accessible from two hosts



    From the information the system has available, it would be trivial to perform either of these operations, but they cannot be accomplished automatically because it is not obvious whether either of these is the user's desired course of action (they may have specified the wrong vdisk, and not want either of these operations performed).

    Similarly, successful commands are often followed by other commands that are commonly executed in sequence, but the system cannot do so automatically because that may not be the user's intention.

    The proposed technique is a mechanism by which an executed command can pass information concerning additional useful commands back to a command-line shell, such that those commands can be invoked using a shortcut key mechanism, rather than the user having to remember them or type them in explicitly.

    It provides an API by which commands can easily recommend other commands, and a process by which the command-line parser can collect and display these commands.

    Providing a list of commands and associated shortcut keys improves user experience by reducing the mental burden on the operator to remember certain commands, whilst retaining operator control over the commands that do get


    This proposed technique is of very broad applicability - command-lines are used in many different computer systems, and all would benefit from the usability enhancement that this proposed technique offers.

There are four principal components to this proposed technique:

A Shortcut Registration API that allows programs to indicate that there are useful commands that the user may wish to execute following this one.

A Shortcut Repository in which the registered shortcuts are retained. This
repository can be written to by programs via the Shortcut Registration API, and can also be read by the command-line shell.

A Key Binding mechanism, which is part of the...