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Capturing screen shots and program interaction on UNIX and Linux systems

Jun 24, 2010, 12:35 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by William Von Hagen)


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"The online reference information for many command-line UNIX and Linux® commands (the man page) is the primary source of information about these commands. All man pages are supposed to explain all the options that are available for a given command and many provide examples of associated program output, including any program prompts and associated user input.

"To obtain this information, someone has to create those examples. Reading the source code to see every possible prompt to the user and the scenarios it displays is usually less functional than simply running the program to see what it does. To convert this experimentation into documentation, the developers (or writers who create reference information for an application) find it useful to keep a complete record of program input, prompts for information that are displayed by an application, and user input in response to those prompts.

"Capturing a user's interaction with a command-line application is not just a writing task. Most developers of command-line applications use the C programming language's printf() command (or its equivalent in other languages) as their initial debugging tool, using it to display the contents of different variables and data structures throughout an application. Depending on the amount of information displayed, it's usually easiest to capture this output in a file for subsequent examination and analysis. Similarly, system administrators often like to keep a step-by-step record of interactive system or server configuration and initialization."

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