Tool Tips

Tool Tips

Article from Issue 186/2016

Tool tests on the fast track

Term-Highlight 1.8.1

Function: Highlight patterns in terminal


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: Grep, Supercat

Term Highlight – the name really says it all: The Perl script hl searches through text files for search patterns and color highlights the matches. If so desired, it will work like Grep and just output the lines with the matches. Optionally, Term Highlight can ignore the case and work recursively. The tool also understands regular expressions.

When defining the highlighting options and the search pattern, users can define the foreground and background color. The script reads from standard output or searches through files and directories explicitly specified by the user after the - sign.

User can store frequently needed highlighting in snippets in the ~/.hlrc configuration file. The unique designator is followed by the highlighting options and search patterns. After defining a snippet, you can enable it later on in the global call options following -s.

(3 Stars) Using the tool is easy but not always intuitive. If users forget the hyphen in front of the file list, hl just ignores the list. It is also somewhat unfortunate that the -b parameter has a different meaning in the global options and highlight options.

BashBurn 3.1.0

Function: Burn CDs and DVDs at the command line


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: Growisofs, Cdrecord

If you do not have a graphical burning tool, or you just prefer to use the shell, you will find a practical helper in the form of BashBurn. The shell script acts as a front end for tools like mkisofs, cdrecord, growisofs, cdparanoia, and others. It burns data CDs and DVDs, as well as music CDs and images; rips audio CDs; converts NRG files from the Nero application into standard ISO files; and much more.

When launched, the program comes up with a simple menu. You can use the program settings to define where the tool stores temporary files and set optional parameters for the underlying console tools.

The Data section contains entries for copying media or burning files and directories to disk, creating ISO images, burning existing images, and so on. The Audio section contains entries for copying CDs. You also have the option of converting WAV files to MP3, Ogg Vorbis, or FLAC; ripping a CD; or burning play lists.

(5 Stars) In terms of the feature scope, BashBurn can easily keep up with graphical burning tools. The shell script also does a good job when you need to work on a remote system.

Nikola 7.7.2

Function: Generate static websites


License: MIT

Alternatives: Jekyll, Hyde, Pelican

For security or performance reasons, many users rely on static content for their websites. Nikola provides support. The tool, written in Python, creates attractive pages, including links, site maps, RSS feeds, and more. It can also import content from platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger. Nikola works with Python 2.7 and 3.3, but it needs many additional libraries despite the lean codebase. The developers recommend installing via the Python package manager pip.

To design a new website, you run nikola init and follow the wizard. You are prompted to provide details on the title, language, time zone, and the like. Then, you fill the framework with content. Options such as new_page or new_post help you do so. The -e switch launches the text editor defined in $EDITOR.

When done, type nikola build to compile, and deploy to publish the page. If you want to test your work locally in the browser before going live, you can launch the integrated web server by typing serve. Other useful options include github_deploy (uploads to GitHub), status (shows you when the content was last published), and orphans (finds orphaned pages).

(5 Stars) Nikola is a very powerful tool. The project website offers a number of extensions and themes, and the comprehensive documentation leaves no questions unanswered.

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