By John Paul Mueller

The aws-shell utility comes with a host of interesting features. The interactivity alone makes it worth using, but you also get these additions as part of the package (make sure to also check out the blog that is available from within the preceding article link):

  • Auto-completion: As you type commands, you see a list of available options to complete the next step. For example, after you type aws, you see a list of services that you can add as the next step in the command process.
  • Auto-suggestion: If the shell recognizes a pattern to the values you type, it gives you a completed command. Pressing Tab automatically enters the remaining text.
  • Command history: Even though most command-prompt and terminal-window implementations retain a command history, the information is available for only the current session. The aws-shell utility stores this information in a file for later use.
  • Dot (.) commands: The aws-shell gives you access to additional aws-shell–specific commands through the dot (.) prompt. Here are a few examples:
    • .edit: Provides the means for saving the commands you type as part of a shell script.
    • profile: Modifies the profile used to execute commands so that you don’t have to include the --profile argument every time you type a command.
    • .cd: Changes the directory to the specified location on disk.
  • Fuzzy searches: You may not remember an argument or other command component precisely. Typing a value that appears as part of the actual argument displays a list of suggestions that you can use in place of that part you remember.
  • Inline documentation: Help is always available as part of the shell. As you type values, the shell automatically displays help for that value so that you can be sure you’re typing the right information.
  • Server-side auto-complete: Typing a command component that requires a server-side value, such as an ARN, usually requires a lookup on your part. When using aws-shell, the shell performs the lookup for you and displays a list of acceptable values.
  • Shell command access: If you need to access the underlying operating system commands, type an exclamation mark (!) before the command. For example, type ! dir and press Enter to obtain a directory listing on a Windows system.
  • Shorthand auto-complete: You can use shorthand notation to define a specific longer sequence of commonly used commands. Typing the shorthand form is the same as typing the full sequence.
  • Toolbar options: The status bar shows a list of function keys that you can press to obtain specific functionality from aws-shell. For example, you can turn fuzzy searches on or off as needed.