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Command Line Interface (CLI)

Definition - What does Command Line Interface (CLI) mean?

Command line interface (CLI) is a text-based interface that is used to operate software and operating systems while allowing the user to respond to visual prompts by typing single commands into the interface and receiving a reply in the same way.

CLI is quite different from the graphical user interface (GUI) that is presently being used in the latest operating systems.

Techopedia explains Command Line Interface (CLI)

CLI is an older method for interacting with applications and operating systems and is used to perform specific tasks required by users. CLI is a text-based interface, unlike the GUI, which uses graphical options that enable the user to interact with the operating system and applications.

CLI allows a user to perform tasks by entering commands. Its working mechanism is very easy, but it is not user friendly. Users enter the specific command, press “Enter”, and then wait for a response. After receiving the command, the CLI processes it accordingly and shows the output/result on the same screen; command line interpreter is used for this purpose.

CLI was introduced with the teletypewriter machine. This system was based on batched processing. Modern computers support CLI, batch processing and GUI in one interface.

In order to best make use of CLI, a user must be able to enter a bundle of commands (one by one) quickly. There are many applications (mono-processing systems) that still use CLI for their operators. In addition, some programming languages, such as Forth, Python and BASIC, offer CLI. Command line interpreter is used to implement the text-based interface.

Another feature of CLI is command prompt, which is employed as a sequence of characters used in the user interface, or shell. Command prompt is used to notify users that CLI is ready to accept commands.

MS-DOS is the best example of CLI.

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