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Making Batch Scripts With Ease

August 12, 2010 By: lilybird Category: Software

Batch scripting is quite an old technique, but it is still commonly used all over the world. Plenty of of people use batch files every day to automate boring tasks. Are there any really useful tools to make batch files?
First of all let’s look at advanced notepads, powerful editors for programmers, HTML coders, system administrators, etc. You can find lots of them on any software catalogue. Still the most popular ones, to my mind, are Notepad++ and SciTE.

The most attractive feature is their price because everybody can use them for free. There are also some commercial notepads like UltraEdit32. But from the point of a batch creator they do not differ from the free ones.
There are some pros and cons in using advanced notepads to develop batch scripts. First, let’s look at the pros. Tools like Notepad++ provide such features like syntax highlighting, bookmarks, lines numbering, code folding and some others. These features make the process of batch files quicker, but the most powerful features like code tooltips are still not supported in case of batch files. The first con is that there are no editors that allow to use code tooltips for batch scripts. Another con is that you require to use some external tools for the batch scripts creation, for example, just to look through the values of environment variables. Really handy tool must include all these features itself.

So we can say that an advanced notepad is better solution than usual Notepad from Windows, but these programs are still not really handy for a batch scripts creator. Thus we go ahead to another kind of software. Let’s look at scripting development environments.

You can find lots of great scripting integrated development environments (IDEs) with help of Yahoo!, but they are also not very useful for those who want to create batch files. Why are they useless for batch makers? Unfortunately most of them are designed for PHP, Perl or other scripting languages popular in the area of site building. Lesser amount of IDEs are designed for programming using VBScript or Windows PowerShell, but not batch scripts. Well-known IDEs for scripting development under Windows are AdminScriptEditor and PrimalScript. Of course, there are a lot of other good IDEs helping you to create and debug different scripts.
Batch scripts are usually supported by an IDE, but the meaning of ‘support’ can be different.

Unfortunately, typical scripting IDE cannot offer anything more than an advanced notepad for batch programmers. There is no full-featured scripting IDE supporting code tooltips, debugging and other really useful features for batch files. They offer all these functions for ‘big’ scripting languages, but for others they aren’t provided. Batch scripting can be found among these ‘poor’ languages and thus programming environments doesn’t provide the handiest features for it.
Scripting IDEs are commonly used to create batch scripts, but they also don’t offer some good things that are available for those who use other scripting languages. So we need to continue the search for a perfect tool for the batch scripts development. The closest to the perfection from this point of view is the utility called Dr.Batcher.

You may think that there is no utility specially designed for batch scripting. But such tool is available on market. It is called Dr.Batcher, but that’s not a true scripting IDE for batch files. This tool provides interface helping to make batch files both for professional batch programmers and for people who have never created batch scripts before.

Dr.Batcher provides two different modes of the editor: a simple and a professional one. Professional mode looks like ordinary scripting editor (for example, like Scite) with such features like syntax highlighting, bookmarks and code tooltips. Simple mode is a kind of a visual editor. In a simple mode all commands of a batch script are represented in the style clear for any user. Simple mode provides you with all required information about commands and their parameters without calling Windows help. You see all you need to know about each command and each parameter during the batch file creation or editing, and that’s really useful. If Dr.Batcher isn’t able to show you all necessary information, you can perform one-click Web search with the help of your preferable search engine.

The utility also provides you with some additional functions. For example, you can easily look through the values of environment variables and copy them, or convert batch scripts from DOS text encoding to Windows and vice versa. Unfortunately, there is still no batch files debugger in Dr.Bacher. But I hope we’ll see it soon because the manufacturer of Dr.Batcher quite often releases new versions. Dr.Batcher is not free, but it is also not expensive: by now it costs $30 per copy.

So it can be stated that there are no perfect tools for batch files creation, but the most powerful of the existing ones is Dr.Batcher.

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