YAOS v1.6- by Ryan Dill

A lot of good things can be said about OS/2, but one thing is for certain: its default command line shell, CMD.EXE, has got to be one of the most user-unfriendly tools known to mankind. I can understand this, after all one of the biggest advantages of OS/2 is the object-oriented Workplace Shell. In IBM's mind, why would anyone use the command line except as a last resort, right?

The fact is, though, a lot of us do. For those with low-memory systems, a command-line window is a fast and easy way to get things done, one which requires less drag on the system than, say, the Drives object. Many of us are at home in command prompts from using UNIX perhaps, and despite loving the power of the WPS, still use the command line for much of our 'quick-and-dirty' work.

IBM's CMD shell doesn't take full advantage of many of OS/2's features. Long filenames in HPFS, for example, can be accessed through the command line, but only by "Typing the long name fully and enclosed in quotation marks". Ick. Wouldn't it be easier if you could complete that filename without bothering with quotes and without having to type the whole thing?

Those of you reading this who know about JP Software are probably saying, "Yeah, but you can do that! Just get 4OS2!" JP Software's 4OS2 is a great product, but that's not what I'm here to talk about, because I don't need it. I use the amusingly named "Yet Another OS/2 Shell".

Despite the name, YAOS is anything but just another shell. It allows command-line completion of filenames, command aliasing, drive-wide "cd" (change directory) switching, command history, executable extensions, and more. Why should you use YAOS rather than 4OS2? Simple: it's free, and according to the author, probably always will be.

Maybe I should explain a few of these feature for those of you who aren't command line fanatics. In my opinion, YAOS' most useful feature by far is its command-line completion ability. Just type in the first few letters of the filename you want to access, or the directory you want to switch to, and press <TAB>. A little window pops up (GIF, 5.5k) displaying the files/directories which match the first few letters you have typed, allowing you to select the one you want with the cursor keys. If you want to switch into the directory "Boy_this directory name_ is long...It has_Spaces too", just type

cd b <TAB>
and YAOS will automatically stick its name on the command line, all spaces and characters included. If there's more than one file or directory starting with the same letter, you can either select the one you want from a pop-up list, or press <ESC> to get out of the list and type a few more characters, then press <TAB> again to get a better completion.

YAOS also appends a slash '\' to the end of the name if it's a directory, so if you're trying to access a file a few directories deep, it's still a snap. If there's a file called "January's business statistics" in the above directory, just type something like

cd b <TAB> j <TAB>
and it'll complete the filename with its full path; then just hit return. Command line completion is a feature which, if you use the command line at all, is an essential time-saver, especially if you've got long filenames or those with spaces in them.

The shell also has a similar way of accessing previously-used commands; not only can you access them by using the cursor up and down keys and/or <TAB>, hitting <ALT-H> will bring up a full list of commands you've typed since the shell was started. Or, if you're used to UNIX, you can use syntax like '!4' to execute the fourth-last command, '!!' for the most recent command, etc.

YAOS allows you to use aliases, as well. Define an alias like

p=play file=%1 dev=waveaudio01
and you can play wav files from the command line just by typing 'p filename'. Save aliases to a file and give YAOS the right parameters when you start it, and those aliases are always available. Aliases are another thing which, once you've gotten used to, you'll wonder how you ever did without them.

Another cool feature is that YAOS can be set up to use file associations. Just type the filename by itself and hit return, and YAOS will run the application you've associated with that file type with the filename as a parameter. Set up something like

ext zip=d:\compression\unzip
and when you type the name of any zip file (even with path info, like d:\temp\thisfile.zip) then YAOS will run unzip on it, extracting the contents to the current directory.

YAOS has more features than you can shake a proverbial stick at, including a built-in kill command, EMACS-style editing commands, the ability to change to a directory just by typing its name (no cd needed!), the ability to start programs in separate sessions (which allows you to get back to the command line while the program is running), the ability to locate any executable in your path with a single command, the ability to quick-switch to any directory on your drive just by typing its name in, and the list goes on. Basically, anything the CMD.EXE shell can do, YAOS can do, and better. Anything 4OS2 can do, YAOS can probably do, and cheaper.

If there ever was a "must-have" app, this is it. IBM should include this program with Warp instead of CMD.EXE. Download it and try it out! You won't be sorry you did.

 * YAOS v1.6
by LEE Cjin Pheow
download from Singapore or MustHave.com (ZIP, 116k)
Registration: Freeware
Ryan Dill is a student in Computer Science at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He holds fast to the belief that sleep, while nice, is highly overrated.

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