Creating Interactive Script

4 minute read

Creating interactive Bash scripts adds a layer of user-friendliness and versatility to your automation tools. In this tutorial, we’ll delve into the process of designing interactive Bash scripts, providing examples and answering common questions to help you craft scripts that engage and empower users.

Basic User Input with read


# Basic user input with 'read'

echo "What's your name?"
read username

echo "Hello, $username! Welcome to the interactive script."

The read command allows users to input values during script execution. In this example, the script prompts the user for their name.


# Menu-based interaction

echo "Select an option:"
echo "1. Display Date"
echo "2. Display Calendar"
echo "3. Exit"

read choice

case $choice in
  1) echo "Current Date: $(date)";;
  2) cal;;
  3) echo "Exiting script"; exit;;
  *) echo "Invalid option";;

Creating a menu-based interface allows users to choose from predefined options. This script offers date display, calendar view, and an exit option.

Validating User Input


# Validating user input

echo "Enter a number between 1 and 10:"
read number

if [[ $number =~ ^[1-9]$|^10$ ]]; then
  echo "Valid input: $number"
  echo "Invalid input. Please enter a number between 1 and 10."

Validating user input ensures that the provided values meet specific criteria. This script validates whether the input is a number between 1 and 10.

Password Input with read -s


# Password input with 'read -s'

echo "Enter your password:"
read -s password

echo -e "\nPassword entered. Performing secure operation."

For sensitive information like passwords, the -s option hides user input while typing. This script captures and uses a secure password input.

Interactive File Operations


# Interactive file operations

echo "Enter the filename:"
read filename

if [ -e $filename ]; then
  echo "File $filename exists."
  echo "File $filename does not exist. Creating it."
  touch $filename

Interactively managing files allows users to input filenames and perform operations based on file existence. This script checks if a file exists and creates it if not.

Asking for Confirmation


# Asking for confirmation

echo "Do you want to proceed? (yes/no)"
read confirmation

if [[ $confirmation =~ ^[Yy][Ee][Ss]$ ]]; then
  echo "Proceeding with the operation."
  echo "Operation canceled."

This script asks the user for confirmation before proceeding with an operation, accepting variations of “yes” as valid input.

Interactive User Details


# Interactive user details

echo "Enter your name:"
read name

echo "Enter your age:"
read age

echo "Enter your favorite color:"
read color

echo -e "\nUser Details:"
echo "Name: $name"
echo "Age: $age"
echo "Favorite Color: $color"

This script prompts the user for their name, age, and favorite color, then displays the gathered information.

Dynamic Calculation


# Dynamic calculation based on user input

echo "Enter a number:"
read num1

echo "Enter another number:"
read num2

sum=$((num1 + num2))
echo "Sum of $num1 and $num2 is: $sum"

This script takes two numbers as input from the user and calculates their sum, providing an interactive arithmetic operation.

Interactive Directory Navigation


# Interactive directory navigation

echo "Enter the directory path:"
read directory

if [ -d "$directory" ]; then
  cd "$directory" || exit
  echo -e "\nCurrent directory: $(pwd)"
  echo "Invalid directory path."

Users can input a directory path, and the script navigates to that directory if it exists.

Selecting Options from a List


# Selecting options from a list

options=("Option 1" "Option 2" "Option 3")

echo "Choose an option:"
select choice in "${options[@]}"; do
  case $choice in
    "Option 1")
      echo "You selected Option 1."
    "Option 2")
      echo "You selected Option 2."
    "Option 3")
      echo "You selected Option 3."
      echo "Invalid choice. Please select again."

This script presents a list of options for the user to choose from using the 'select' statement.


  1. Why is creating interactive scripts beneficial?
    Interactive scripts enhance user experience by allowing dynamic input and interaction, making scripts more versatile and user-friendly.

  2. How do I take user input in Bash scripts?
    Use the read command to prompt users for input during script execution. For example, read variable.

  3. Can I create a menu for users to choose options in a Bash script?
    Yes, use the echo command to display options and the read command to capture the user’s choice. Incorporate a case statement for handling different options.

  4. How can I validate user input in Bash scripts?
    Regular expressions can be used with conditional statements to validate user input. For example, if [[ $input =~ pattern ]]; then.

  5. Is it possible to hide user input, like passwords, in Bash scripts?
    Yes, use the -s option with the read command to hide user input. For example, read -s password.

  6. What are common security considerations for interactive scripts?
    Avoid displaying sensitive information, sanitize user input to prevent code injection, and validate input to ensure it meets specific criteria.

  7. How can I provide users with options for file operations in a script?
    Use the read command to capture the filename input and incorporate conditional statements to perform file operations based on user input.

  8. What happens if a user enters unexpected input in an interactive script?
    Include error-checking mechanisms to handle unexpected input gracefully, providing informative messages to guide users.

  9. Can I create an interactive script with a graphical user interface (GUI) in Bash?
    While Bash is primarily a text-based interface, tools like dialog or zenity can be used to create simple GUIs in Bash scripts.

  10. How can I make my interactive script more user-friendly?
    Provide clear instructions, offer informative prompts, include error messages for invalid input, and ensure that the script flows logically for a positive user experience.