Batch files have been around for more than three decades, which, in modern computer terms, is next to forever. Typically, a batch file is a human readable text file, that contains a sequence of commands. These commands are executed by a command-line interface, which in Windows, is the command prompt or the powershell.
Batch files enable you to design a logical, line-by-line sequence of windows commands to be executed, just by running a single file. The files carry a “.bat” extension, and are meant to make it easy for the user to handle repetitive tasks.
Since they are simple text files, batch files can be created with any text editor. Notepad is the preferred editor in Windows, as it doesn’t have any options to alter the format, making things like indentation bugs improbable. Another feature of the Windows Batch files is that you can arrange the commands by nesting them in parent-child structures.
To create one, you simply need to open the text editor and make a blank text file, and save it as [file-name].bat, where “file-name” corresponds to the name of your choice. Take note of the hyphen in the name. You don’t want to have a space in the file name because command shells use spaces in the format for designating arguments and flags.Then you can start typing in commands. You will need to give a title to your batch file at the beginning, which will display on top of the cmd.exe window. At the end of the document, you’ll need to add the pause command.
In the above paragraphs we mentioned that you can design a logical sequence of commands. In this regard, the “if”, “for”, and “goto” help you perform conditional operations.
Here are some essential commands you need to run:
This is used to next command in the sequence, without escaping the parent program.
This is used to display any message in the terminal window. You can switch it on or off as the file design requires.
This is the conditional processing command and executes the underlying commands if a specified condition is meeted, or if the previous program returned an error code greater than or equal to a specified number.
This is basic for loop command. It takes a set of files, and executes the specified command on each file.
The batch commands have an option of labeling. You can use the Goto command to jump to a command with a specific label.
As you can see, the batch file functionality is quite powerful for Windows users. In enterprise settings too, the batch file helps in simplification of processes by offering automation capabilities.
Investing in an enterprise-grade task scheduler can offer a lot of advantages for implementing batch at a larger scale. These include a graphical interface, centralization with the ability to execute tasks on a remote system, and ability to execute vbscript and jscript, with more control over output and results.