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I have a BASH scripting question. I'd like the mention that I am new to BASH scripting; however, I am not new to programming. I am developing a simple BASH script to watch a given compass project. My script is shown below.

I would like to allow a user to optionally enter a custom path or use the default http_path value. I'm not sure how to set the path variable equal to the http_path variable where my default Apache directory is located using my current script. If any one has better suggestions and/or resources for learning how to write BASH scripts, please share!

Note: I have searched this site, Google, and stackoverflow for an answer. If you find one with a solution to my issue, please let me know!

# This script will watch a given compass project

echo -n "Enter in a new path and press. To use the default path $http_path press [ENTER] twice"

while read path; do
    if [ -z "${path}" ]; then
        # these two lines enable the script to work if I do not
        # I do not prompt for default path. It's been tested and works
        # echo "That was empty, do it again!"
        # echo -n "Enter in a compass project directory and press [ENTER]"
        echo "Are you sure you would like to use the default path? Press [ENTER] to continue..."
        echo "Checking now..."

echo -n "Enter in a project to watch and prss [ENTER]"

while read project; do
    if [ -z "${project}" ]; then
        echo "That was empty, do it again!"
        echo -n "Enter in a compass project name and press [ENTER]"
        echo "Checking now..."

echo "Watching" $project "project in directory" $path
echo "To exit project press Command/Control + C"

cd $path
compass watch $project

See problem solution here

share|improve this question
Are you referring to DocumentRoot here? – Nils Jan 27 '13 at 20:29
To the document root of my apache server. /var/www/ is where all of my php scripts are located – djthoms Jan 27 '13 at 20:29
I would grep for it in the httpd_conf and set it automatically. – Nils Jan 27 '13 at 20:30
Awesome idea but it differs from dirstro to distro. Some it's in /etc/apache2 and for others it might be in /etc/httpd, any way to dynamically figure out where the httpd.conf or apache2.conf file might be? – djthoms Jan 27 '13 at 20:59
@djthoms, who says it has to be dynamical? Could edit the script when installing. – vonbrand Jan 28 '13 at 1:24
up vote 2 down vote accepted

When assigning a value to path, leave off the leading $ sign in the first while loop.

You only need to do: path=$http_path.


I only realized after I posted that you also want resources to learn bash. I personally found Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide to be useful. It is a bit dated if I remember correctly, but it is more than sufficient. Also #bash on Freenode is a great place. They're not always the friendliest but they are definitely extraordinarily knowledgable.

Also, never be afraid to test out something on the command-line. That's your interactive interpreter (if you've done any ruby or python programming).

Edit 2

The actual problem was that after hitting enter the user wouldn't exit the loop so the code needed to be changed to:

while read path; do
    if [ -z "${path}" ]; then
        echo "Are you sure you would like to ..."
        read prompt
        if [ -n "${prompt}" ] ; then
        # etc.
share|improve this answer
Alright, good to know! It seems it is getting stuck at that point where the user would press enter again to use the default path. I can press enter for days and nothing happens. – djthoms Jan 27 '13 at 20:30
Oh I entirely missed that. You're doing an echo without a subsequent read. You're not checking their input and as such the while loop is just running constantly. You need to read and break after that echo. – sigmavirus24 Jan 27 '13 at 20:31
The addition of the break worked wonderfully! I have been testing I just got stuck on that one part. I'm mainly a PHP developer but I have experience in Python and Java. – djthoms Jan 27 '13 at 21:06
@djthoms you might want to make sure that what you read in after that echo is of zero-length. If it isn't, you might want to continue to prompt them for input. Check my edited answer. Cheers! – sigmavirus24 Jan 27 '13 at 21:13
Thank you @sigmavirus24! – djthoms Jan 28 '13 at 8:10

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