While one of the primary attractions of OS/2 is the Workplace Shell and its advanced drag-n-drop method of managing files and programs, there are also many advantages to bypassing it altogether and using the CLI (Command Line Interface) instead. From the CLI, OS/2 doesn't have to deal with the overhead of the PM and the Workplace Shell, so it can perform tasks faster with fewer resources. These advantages are often offset by their complexity, however, and if you're not careful you might wind up deleting something you didn't want to delete.
Take Command for OS/2 is an unholy union between the command line and the graphical user interface. Created by the people who gave us 4DOS, 4OS/2 (see review in this issue), and 4NT, it's an attempt to integrate the command prompt with OS/2's graphical environment, and it works -- to a certain extent.
When you open Take Command for OS/2, you don't see an OS/2 command prompt -- you see a program window (.GIF, 10K) with a toolbar at the top of the screen and a command prompt inside the program window. This command prompt behaves exactly like a command prompt in a normal OS/2 command line window, but the new GUI elements give it a few other interesting features you might not expect.
In a normal command line session, you're usually restricted to an 80-character screen width. With Take Command for OS/2, the maximum width of its display depends upon the resolution of your monitor. For example, if you were to maximize Take Command for OS/2 and pump your 21" monitor up to the highest resolution it can display, you could theoretically have a command line session displaying at 1880x1440, which will put a LOT more than 80 characters on a single line on your screen.
You can modify the colors of screen display and typed text separately. For example, I configured Take Command to paint all displayed text (.GIF, 9K) as bright green on a black background, while all text I typed in is bright cyan on a black background. This is not necessarily the most useful feature in the world, but it is nice to be able to tell the difference between what you typed and everything else on the screen.
One of my favorite features is the ability to scroll back and see what would usually be "lost" in a standard command window. This is a great feature. You can use the dir command to see a list of files without having to use the /p modifier to break it up, since you can just scroll back to the top of the page to see what you missed.
Take Command for OS/2 is more than simply a new window for the command prompt, though. It comes with a complete set of tools that makes using the command line a little easier for people who just don't like it. For example, it comes with a search utility (.GIF, 8K) that seems to have built-in grep-like capability (the ability to search not just the names of files, but the text within those files as well). This search utility is modified through a standard dialog box, allowing you to avoid complex command line strings.
Commands you use all the time can be added to the toolbar (.GIF, 7K) at the top of the screen. You choose a position on the tool bar (B1 through B24), create a label for the button and type in the command you want executed. Finally, you specify whether or not you want the command to simply appear on the screen (the command appears at the command prompt but doesn't execute until you hit the enter key), have it appear on the screen and execute (it appears at the command prompt and then activates as though you had hit the enter key), or have it simply execute, without appearing on the screen.
Aside from common command line instructions, you can also add executable programs (and scripts) to the ToolBar for easy access.
Other useful functions include the ability to define your user environment -- sort of like creating a mini config.sys file specifically for Take Command -- by modifying the Environment dialog box in the Setup menu. You can also run external programs via the "Run Program" dialog box (similar to the Run... command in Windows 3.1 and Windows 95).
A big plus for Take Command is that it is very well documented and you can access its manual at any time. Simply press the "Manual" button on the toolbar and it will activate a full screen display of the user manual. It's very complete and even has information on the Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 versions of the program. It will take a little while to read through, though.
It's hard to say exactly where Take Command for OS/2 fits into the grand scheme of things. People very familiar with the command line won't necessarily need it -- they'll be used to the CLI environment and will have optimized their environment so they can do most of the things Take Command can do. They might like the way Take Command makes a command prompt more like a program window, however, and they'll certainly appreciate many of its features. Yet people who are not familiar with and don't like using the CLI environment probably wouldn't find it very useful.
Take Command for OS/2 version 2.01A
Christopher B. Wright is a technical writer in the Richmond, VA area, and has been using OS/2 Warp since January 95. He is also a member of Team OS/2.
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