CLI Style - Expression, Purpose or Both?

As I began screencasting while working behind the command line to build out the modular videos on demand (VODs), I couldn't help but be bothered by the lack of authenticity and the overly scripted nature of my recordings. I was typing out commands fully with no error and never using tab, question mark or abbreviations that are built into the command line interface (CLI) to make life simpler. My original thought was that I would provide you with the cleanest form of output to provide the most professional recording experience. What I quickly realized is that by doing this I was providing you with a disservice.

Typing in commands in this way is not only unrealistic, but extremely inefficient and perhaps in some cases less effective. Save the memorization of CLI syntax for the Cisco written exams (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE Written). We are going to focus on the practical application and I am going to showcase my personal style that you can either borrow from or ignore in favor of what works best for you.

Learning to maneuver behind the CLI is a lot like learning to walk. We often start off crawling trying to figure it out on our own and doing our best to get from point A to point B. Over time we mature, gaining more experience by stumbling and falling down frequently. Eventually we are fortunate enough to learn by watching and getting a little help from others. Before we know it we are not just walking, but rather running and again we trip and fall from time to time which is all part of the process.

For those of us who have been working with Cisco command line for a while, we end up developing a CLI style. Once again, this isn't too different than walking. During my teenage years my walk definitely was a tool for expression. As I got older the strut of my youth changed into more of a limp due to the arthritis setting in. I didn't have to worry about my sagging pants getting in the way any longer as my body did enough of that on its own. The purpose of my walk changed from expression to efficiency. I became a lot more careful of how I would step, where I would step and when I would step as I would proactively look ahead for potential challenges and look back to learn what caused the least pain. I would say that my current CLI style is a lot like this. Rather than showing off my lightning quick typing speed and my ability to memorize, these days I break out the CLI cane, crutches, walker and scooter.

Let me show you what I am talking about:

As you experiment and develop your own CLI style there really isn't a wrong or a right way of entering in command information. It's all about doing what works best and training yourself so that the most efficient, least error prone approach becomes natural. Whether you are walking with a strut, a limp, or running at full speed, learn all you can and look for ways to pay it forward. Stay tuned for upcoming CVD breakdown blogs by module. Until next time when we explore base configuration.

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  1. Thanks Andre, very nice, clean and simple video that will come in handy. I have already started to take advantage of some of these tips. Mark

  2. Thank you, Mark. Much more to come soon. Balancing work, life and this crazy hobby of mine.

  3. Thank you, James. I have another blog in the queue and just need to finish recording the two separate videos on Traditional vs. VSS based Collapsed Core/Dist setup.