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Batch file

The meaning of «batch file»

A batch file is a script file in DOS, OS/2 and Microsoft Windows. It consists of a series of commands to be executed by the command-line interpreter, stored in a plain text file. A batch file may contain any command the interpreter accepts interactively and use constructs that enable conditional branching and looping within the batch file, such as IF, FOR, and GOTO labels. The term "batch" is from batch processing, meaning "non-interactive execution", though a batch file may not process a batch of multiple data.

Similar to Job Control Language (JCL), DCL and other systems on mainframe and minicomputer systems, batch files were added to ease the work required for certain regular tasks by allowing the user to set up a script to automate them. When a batch file is run, the shell program (usually COMMAND.COM or cmd.exe) reads the file and executes its commands, normally line-by-line.[1] Unix-like operating systems, such as Linux, have a similar, but more flexible, type of file called a shell script.[2]

The filename extension .bat is used in DOS and Windows. Windows NT and OS/2 also added .cmd. Batch files for other environments may have different extensions, e.g., .btm in 4DOS, 4OS2 and 4NT related shells.

The detailed handling of batch files has changed significantly between versions. Some of the detail in this article applies to all batch files, while other details apply only to certain versions.

In DOS, a batch file can be started from the command-line interface by typing its name, followed by any required parameters and pressing the ↵ Enter key. When DOS loads, the file AUTOEXEC.BAT, when present, is automatically executed, so any commands that need to be run to set up the DOS environment may be placed in this file. Computer users would have the AUTOEXEC.BAT file set up the system date and time, initialize the DOS environment, load any resident programs or device drivers, or initialize network connections and assignments.

A .bat file name extension identifies a file containing commands that are executed by the command interpreter COMMAND.COM line by line, as if it were a list of commands entered manually, with some extra batch-file-specific commands for basic programming functionality, including a GOTO command for changing flow of line execution.

Microsoft Windows was introduced in 1985 as a graphical user interface-based (GUI) overlay on text-based operating systems and was designed to run on DOS. In order to start it, the WIN command was used, which could be added to the end of the AUTOEXEC.BAT file to allow automatic loading of Windows. In the earlier versions, one could run a .bat type file from Windows in the MS-DOS Prompt. Windows 3.1x and earlier, as well as Windows 9x invoked COMMAND.COM to run batch files.

The IBM OS/2 operating system supported DOS-style batch files. It also included a version of REXX, a more advanced batch-file scripting language. IBM and Microsoft started developing this system, but during the construction of it broke up after a dispute; as a result of this, IBM referred to their DOS-like console shell without mention of Microsoft, naming it just DOS, although this seemingly made no difference with regard to the way batch files worked from COMMAND.COM.

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