11 Reasons Why You Should Learn the Command Line


In a area as tightly linked to pc science as knowledge science is, with the ability to management your pc like a developer generally is a very helpful asset, even for a knowledge analyst or knowledge scientist. The Unix command-line interface (CLI; you’ll additionally see it known as the terminal or bash, shell, and many others.) permits us to try this and far more.

Making the swap from graphical consumer interfaces (GUIs) to a CLI can really feel overwhelming, however we’re right here that can assist you!

To present you a jump-start, listed here are a number of the explanation why try to be studying the command line.

1. Command Line Abilities Are Standard, and Pay Handsomely

Based on 2019’s Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey, bash/shell (i.e. the household of Linux command language interpreters) is the sixth most used language general, rating forward of Python and R. It was additionally related to higher salaries than both Python or R, in accordance with the survey.

It additionally ranked high on the most-loved technologies list (59.5%), and decrease on the most-dreaded applied sciences checklist (40%).

And whereas StackOverflow’s survey covers software program builders and engineers of all kinds, the command line is of specific relevance for knowledge scientists as a result of Bash/Shell correlates heavily with Data Science technologies like Python, IPython/Jupyter, TensorFlow and PyTorch. That is additionally supported by the newest Python Developers Survey performed by Python Software Foundation.

2. Command Line Abilities Assist With Constructing Repeatable Information Processes

A part of a knowledge scientist’s position is to verify sure info is out there repeatedly, typically day by day. More often than not this knowledge is acquired, processed and displayed in the identical manner.

The command line is effectively fitted to this goal as a result of instructions are simply automated and replicated.

Take into account the next state of affairs:

Your employer decides to spend money on knowledge analytics. A number of knowledge professionals shall be becoming a member of the staff. You’re tasked with ensuring that their machines have every little thing they should get began.

When you can work with a CLI (command language interpreter), you’ll be able to write a number of scripts that can set up, configure and take a look at every little thing robotically.

When you can’t, you’ll should resort to a GUI and make the identical mouse and click on actions, repeatedly, throughout a number of machines.

That’s simply one instance of how terminal abilities can assist make knowledge science processes extra scalable and repeatable.

3. Command Line Abilities Make You Extra Versatile

In a knowledge science position, you’ll typically discover you’ve gotten extra flexibility if you should use the terminal fairly than having to depend on clicking by GUIs.

Because the command line is a program that runs different packages (therefore the title “shell”), the interplay between packages is usually simpler to regulate within the command line.

When you’ve mastered command line instructions, it’s comparatively straightforward to put in writing scripts, and shell scripts make constructing all kinds of knowledge pipelines and workflows a lot less complicated.

Extra broadly, understanding easy methods to use the shell provides you a second possibility for interacting together with your pc.

You’ll be able to at all times use the GUI while you choose, however the command line can offer you extra direct energy and management for these occasions while you want it.

4. Working With Textual content Recordsdata is Simpler

Textual content recordsdata are among the many most typical methods strategies to retailer and deal with knowledge, and virtually any knowledge science undertaking goes to contain some work with textual content recordsdata. With the ability to deal with textual content recordsdata shortly and effectively is thus a really helpful talent for a knowledge scientist.

The shell has very highly effective textual content processing instruments like AWK and sed, which assist with getting acquainted with recordsdata and facilitate knowledge cleansing.

For instance, the code beneath makes use of AWK to print the primary and third columns of a file named a_csv_file, the place the second area’s worth is Dataquest, utilizing a comma as a area separator.

awk 'BEGIN {FS=","} {if ($2=="Dataquest") {print $1 $3} } a_csv_file'

All it takes is one line of code!

5. It’s Much less Useful resource-Intensive

Once you’re working with restricted computing assets or just need to maximize your pace, the utilizing the command line is nearly at all times going to be higher than utilizing a GUI as a result of utilizing a GUI means assets have to be devoted to rendering the graphical output.

That is true each for working regionally and remotely. When connecting remotely, GUIs eat far more bandwidth than terminals, losing assets.

Furthermore, latency, i.e. the “time interval between the stimulation and response”, shall be greater when utilizing a GUI, which will be notably irritating in the event you’re attempting to regulate a mouse that’s a second or two behind your precise actions.

When you’re simply typing within the command line, the latency is more likely to be decrease and it’ll even be simpler to deal with since you understand exactly the place your cursor is at any given time.

6. You Want Command Line Abilities for the Cloud

Cloud providers typically are linked to and operated by a command line interface.

That is notably essential for extra superior knowledge science work like deep studying, the place your native computing assets are more likely to be inadequate for the duties you’d wish to carry out. To cite from this 2018 article by Nucleus Analysis:

In final yr’s analysis, fewer than 10 p.c of [deep learning] tasks have been being run on premise. That pattern has accelerated, with solely Four p.c of tasks working on-premise in 2018.

Based on the identical article, “96 p.c of deep studying right this moment is working within the cloud.”

When you’re enthusiastic about studying superior methods like deep studying, command line abilities shall be mandatory for transferring your knowledge to and from the cloud effectively.

7. Unix Shell Abilities Switch Nicely to Different Shells

There are only a few in style shells (bash, zsh, fish, ksh, tcsh, cmd, Home windows PowerShell, and many others.) and they’re extra alike than they’re totally different, making it straightforward to change between them.

That is notably helpful while you’re utilizing on-line providers that require some type of CLI. However, GUIs are limitless, and studying one received’t essentially enable you to be taught any others.

8. You Can Most likely Kind Sooner Than You Click on

Research reveals that mouse use plateaus fairly shortly, whereas keyboard use, regardless of its steep studying curve, will be extra environment friendly.

251 skilled customers of Microsoft Phrase got a questionnaire assessing their selection of strategies for essentially the most ceaselessly occurring instructions. Opposite to our expectations, most skilled customers not often used the environment friendly keyboard shortcuts, favoring using icon toolbars as a substitute.

A second examine was accomplished to confirm that keyboard shortcuts are, certainly, essentially the most environment friendly technique. Six members carried out frequent instructions utilizing menu choice, icon toolbars, and keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts have been, as anticipated, essentially the most environment friendly.

In different phrases: even in the event you really feel such as you’re working shortly by a GUI, there’s a great probability that at the very least for some duties, you’ll be extra environment friendly within the command line.

9. Auditing and Debugging is Simpler

As a result of it’s so straightforward to trace all your exercise on the command line, auditing and debugging is way simpler.

You’ll be able to simply look by the log to trace each single motion you took within the shell, whereas if a misclick results in a mistake while you’re working with a GUI, there’s more likely to be no file of it.

10. The Unix Shell is Accessible In every single place

Though it’s solely built-in on Mac and Linux machines, Home windows customers can nonetheless take part on the enjoyable with instruments like WSLCygwin and MinGW.

That implies that the command line abilities you be taught in these programs shall be usable on nearly each pc you encounter (together with your private machine, it doesn’t matter what working system you employ).

11. The Command Line is Less complicated Than You Assume

There’s a false impression that utilizing the command line requires you to know a number of hundred instructions. Actually, though there are tons of of instructions accessible to be used, you’re more likely to want only a tiny proportion of those instructions to do most of frequent knowledge science duties.

Nonetheless not satisfied? We’ll go away you with a quote from the nice (and free!) e book The Linux Command Line:

When I’m requested to elucidate the distinction between Home windows and Linux, I typically use a toy analogy.

Home windows is sort of a Sport Boy. You go to the shop and purchase one all shiny new within the field. You are taking it residence, flip it on, and play with it. Fairly graphics, cute sounds. After some time, although, you get bored with the sport that got here with it, so that you return to the shop and purchase one other one. This cycle repeats again and again. 

Lastly, you return to the shop and say to the particular person behind the counter, “I need a recreation that does this!” solely to be informed that no such recreation exists as a result of there isn’t any “market demand” for it. Then you definately say, “However I solely want to vary this one factor!” The particular person behind the counter says you’ll be able to’t change it. The video games are all sealed up of their cartridges. You uncover that your toy is restricted to the video games others have determined that you simply want.

Linux, then again, is just like the world’s largest Erector Set. You open it, and it’s simply an enormous assortment of components. There’s plenty of metal struts, screws, nuts, gears, pulleys, motors, and some solutions on what to construct. So, you begin to play with it. You construct one of many solutions after which one other. 

After a whilst you uncover that you’ve your personal concepts of what to make. You don’t ever have to return to the shop, as you have already got every little thing you want. The Erector Set takes on the form of your creativeness. It does what you need. Your selection of toys is, in fact, a private factor, so which toy would you discover extra satisfying?

Need to Study the Command Line?

Now that we’ve satisfied you to be taught the command line, click here to take a look at our introductory command line course.It is one among two recently-reworked programs that dall into our Data Analyst in Python and Data Scientist in Python paths:

No prerequisite information is required to take these programs.

What Will You Study?

In these two command line programs, you’ll be taught to make use of the Unix terminal interface that’s built-in on Mac and Linux machines. Don’t fear, we’ll additionally present Home windows customers with the instruments required to take full benefit of the content material.

Within the first course, you’ll be taught what the command line interface is, why it can be crucial within the knowledge science workflow, and how one can navigate and handle your pc by giving it directions known as instructions. You’ll additionally find out about wildcards and easy methods to use them along with instructions like lsmvcpmkdir and lots of extra for sooner searches and workflows.

The second course is concentrated on fundamental textual content processing within the shell, utilizing instructions like headcatreduce and grep. It covers how one can mix these instructions to create highly effective chains of instructions from less complicated constructing blocks. You’ll additionally find out about multi-user systems and the ability of output redirection.

And as is the case for all Dataquest programs, these new command line programs use an interactive command line setting and answer-checking to let you apply and test every little thing you’re studying from instantly inside your browser.


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