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Windows Server 2008 Server Core : Outputting Data Files with the Type Command

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12/9/2012 4:57:34 PM
The Type command is a simple method of displaying the content of a file on screen. You use this command with text files; it won't display control codes in a readable form and stops displaying text when it sees an end of file character (ASCII 26). This command uses the following syntax:
TYPE [drive:][path]filename

The following list describes each of the command line arguments.


drive

Specifies the drive that holds the file for display. The default is the current drive.


path

Specifies the relative or absolute path of the file you want to display. The default is the current directory.


filename

Specifies the file you want to display on screen.

Many people combine the Type command with other commands and utilities to achieve special effects. In addition, you can use redirection to augment the functionality of the Type command. By using the correct redirection, you can use the Type command to send raw text to the printer reliably. The following sections describe data redirection and the use of the most common Type command partner utility, the More utility.

1. Employing Data Redirection

Data redirection is the process of sending data from one command or utility to another command or utility. You can also redirect command or utility output to a device or a file. Redirection provides the means for sending output to a location other than the standard output device (the console), obtaining input from a device other than standard input (the keyboard), and using something other than the standard error device (usually the console) to report problems. The command line supports three forms of redirection: input, output, and pipe. Each requires use of specialized symbols.

One of the most common forms of redirection is the pipe and it uses the pipe symbol (|) that appears over the backslash on most keyboards. In fact, the pipe is much older than the PC and appears in the earliest Unix operating systems (see the history at http://www.linfo.org/pipes.html for details). The pipe accomplishes what its name implies; it acts as a pipe between small applications. You connect the applications using the pipe and data flows between the applications using the pipe. For example, you can temporarily connect the Dir command to the Sort command to create a customized directory output using a command like this:

Dir /A-D | Sort /+13

The resulting command obtains a listing of the current directory, without the directory entries and sorts them by the time column. Figure 1 shows the results of this command.

Figure 1. Combining commands and utilities makes the command prompt extremely flexible.

Redirection always works with a file or other streaming device. You never use redirection with another command. The two types of redirection are input and output, with output being the most commonly used. To output the results of a command such as Dir or Sort to a file, you use a greater than sign (>) or output redirection pointer. Windows clears the file if it exists and places the command output in it. However, you might want to place the results of several commands into a file. In this case, you use two greater than signs (>>). A double output redirection pointer always appends the output of a command to the existing file. Here's an example of sending the output of the Dir command to a file:

Dir *.TXT > MyFile.TXT

In this case, you'd end up with a file called MyFile.TXT that contains a list of all of the text files in the current directory.

Input relies on the less than symbol (<) or input redirection pointer. You can always use a file as input to a command that's expecting text or record data. In some cases, you can use file input to generate commands as well. The point is that a file or other streaming device acts as input. Although it's extremely uncommon, you also have access to a double input redirection pointer (<<). This symbol appends input to previous input for a command.

The combination of an output redirection pointer and an input redirection pointer can be the same as a pipe. Here's an example of the two forms of redirection used together:

Dir /A-D > MyFile.TXT
Sort /+13 < MyFile.TXT

In this case, the output of the Dir command appears in MyFile.TXT. The second command uses MyFile.TXT as input to the Sort command. The result is the same as the pipe example shown in Figure 14.3.

Although you can only include one redirection symbol on a command line, you can use as many pipes as needed to accomplish a task. This means that you can create a series of pipes to connect any number of commands and create some interesting command sequences. For example, you can combine the Dir, Sort, and More commands as shown here to provide output where you see one display at a time (see the "Using the More Utility" section for details on the More utility).

Dir /A-D | Sort /+13 | More

2. Using the More Utility

The More utility is one of the few utilities that you never use by itself. You always use this utility with some other utility or command. The More utility pauses the display so that you can see output that normally requires multiple screens to display. For example, you can combine the More utility with the Dir command to display the list of files in a directory one screen at a time. One of the most common uses of the More utility is to provide a means of paging output from the Type command. You can also use redirection to input files to the More utility; the implied partner in this case is the Type command. This utility uses the following syntax:

MORE [/E [/C] [/P] [/S] [/Tn] [+n]] < [drive:][path]filename
command-name | MORE [/E [/C] [/P] [/S] [/Tn] [+n]]
MORE /E [/C] [/P] [/S] [/Tn] [+n] [files]

The following list describes each of the command line arguments.


drive

Specifies the drive that holds the file for display. The default is the current drive.


path

Specifies the relative or absolute path of the file you want to display. The default is the current directory.


filename

Specifies the file you want to display on screen.


/E

Enables the More utility extended feature set. You'll find a discussion of these features later in this section.


/C

Clears the display prior to displaying a page. Normally, the More utility provides a continuous display, so you can scroll back and forth through the screen buffer.


/P

Expands form feed characters as displayable information, rather than reacting to them as an actual form feed.


/S

Removes excess blank lines from the display. The More utility squeezes multiple blank lines into a single blank line.


/T
n

Changes the number of spaces for each tab. The default setting is 8 spaces.


+n

Displays the first file starting at line n. This feature lets you continue displaying a file from a known position after stopping a display during a previous session.


files

Specifies a list of files to display. The More utility sends the files to the Type command in the order specified. It separates each file with a blank. You must provide the list of files as the last argument.

The More utility includes an extended mode that you enable using the /E command line switch. The extended mode provides additional functionality to make it easier to work with output files. For example, you can display a few additional lines to see part of a continuation of data in a file. The following list describes the extended mode commands, which you can type at the More prompt.


P
n

Displays the next n lines of the file. Type the P command. You'll see a Lines prompt. Type the number of lines to display and press Enter.


S
n

Skips the next n lines of the file (doesn't display them). Type the S command. You'll see a Lines prompt. Type the number of lines to display and press Enter.


F

Displays the next file in the list. If there's no next file, the More utility ends. This action doesn't necessarily end the previous application in the pipe. Press Ctrl+C to end the previous command (such as Type) as necessary.


Q

Quits the More utility without displaying any additional data. This action doesn't necessarily end the previous application in the pipe. Press Ctrl+C to end the previous command (such as Type) as necessary.


=

Shows the number of the current line of text. For example, if the More utility is currently displaying the 49th line in the file, you'll see Line: 49 as part of the More prompt.


?

Shows the list of extended commands.


<space>

Displays the next page of the file.


<enter>

Displays the next line of text in the file.

The More utility provides a simple prompt at the bottom of the command window for entering display commands. You can only move forward in a file, not backward. Whenever you enter a command, the More prompt extends to request any additional information. Figure 2 shows the Moreprompt after typing the P command. Notice that the prompt contains the Lines: entry, which lets you input the number of lines to display.

Figure 2. Using the More utility in extended mode makes it easy to manipulate the on-screen display.
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