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Script KATE to Automagically Compile/Execute Programs

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Script KATE to Automagically Compile/Execute Programs

By Gary Frankenbery

I teach high school computer science and programming, and I'm trying to transition my computer lab from MS-Windows only to MS-Windows/Linux dual boot.

For Computer Programming, my students first learn to program with Ruby. I try to keep it simple for these fledgeling programmers, so we have been using the Crimson Text Editor under Microsoft Windows to enter/edit the Ruby source code. The Crimson Text Editor makes it easy to configure a macro to execute whatever Ruby script is being edited: that is, the Crimson macro saves the file, then calls up the Ruby interpreter, and Ruby executes the script. Students accomplish this by simply by pressing the F5 function key while in the Crimson Text Editor.

So, I started wondering if I could configure the KDE Advanced Text Editor (KATE) under Linux to do the same thing with Ruby scripts? Yes, I know that KATE has an embedded terminal where one can activate the terminal window, click in it, and then type, for example,"ruby factorial.rb" and press the enter key, to execute the current Ruby script being edited in KATE. But, I wanted to have the current ruby script in the KATE editor to be both automatically saved, and then executed in a separate Konsole window, all triggered with the simple press of a shortcut key--just like Crimson under MS-Windows.

Could I do this? I've got at least one thing going against me--I'm not a bash shell programmer--I don't really know much shell scripting at all. However, I've got some things working for me--I am a programming teacher so I can program, bash scripting is well documented, and I can be very tenacious. So, I believe that with effort, persistance, and and lot of trial and error, I can figure out how to do this with KATE and Linux. And, so, I did. Then, I wanted to do more.

Since my more advanced computer programming students program use Java (not my personal choice--it's the language mandated by the College Board in the U.S.), I figured out how to configure KATE to automatically save and compile a Java program, and then I finally worked out a script to have KATE call up the Java Run Time Environment to execute the Java program. Obviously, other programming languages (Python comes to mind) can be accommodated as well by customizing these scripts (this, as teachers so often (annoyingly) say, is left as an exercise for the reader Smile).

KATE does permit you to embed scripts, so I'll display some KATE screenshots along the way, and explain how it's done. We'll start by configuring three scripts: Ruby Execute, Java Compile, and Java Execute.Then we'll look at how to configure shortcut keys to activate the scripts under KATE.

  1. With KATE on your screen, select Settings -> Configure Kate... from the

  2. In the Configure Dialog box shown below, click External Tools in the left panel, then then click the New... button at the bottom.

  3. The Edit External Tool Dialog comes up (below). Here, we're going to configure KATE for Ruby Program Execution. Type in a description Label for the script (I used Ruby Execute). Then type in the script itself, with all the single apostrophes, double quotes, spaces, and symbols. Because this is tricky, you can copy the text on the next line, and paste it into the script box:

    cd "%directory" && konsole -e sh -c 'ruby "%filename"; printf "%s"
    "Press any key to exit . . . "; read $dummy'

    Since the KATE External Tool scripts like an executable name, just type konsole into the Executable: text box. Next, click the drop down list arrow by the
    Save: button, and select Current Document. Click the OK button. This window will
    close. Click OK again. You should now be back at the KATE main window.

  4. Now, let's configure the Java Compile script. Starting at the KATE main window, do steps 1 and 2 again. This time, edit the External Tool Dialog to look like the screen clip below. Again, the script code needs to be exact. Here it is so you can copy and paste, if necessary:

    cd "%directory" && konsole -e sh -c 'javac "%filename"; printf "%s" "Press any key to exit . . . "; read $dummy'

    Click the OK button, and at the next window, click OK again. You should be back at the KATE main window.

  5. Time to configure the last script to execute the Java program. At the KATE main window, do steps 1 and 2 above one more time. You should edit the External Tool Dialog to look like the clip below. Again, here's the scipt command which you can copy and paste:

    cd "%directory" &&  CF="%filename" konsole -e  sh -c 'java ${CF%.*}; printf  "%s" "Press any key to exit . . . "; read $dummy'

    Finally, we are done with the scripting part. Next we'll setup shortcut keys to launch our scripts.

  6. To get started, at the main KATE window, click the Settings->Configure Shortcuts menu choices as shown.

  7. You will see the Configure Shorcuts dialog box window shown below.

    Click the Java Compile script, click the button next to Custom (at the bottom), and press the key(s) you want to launch this script. You can see that I chose the F12 key to compile the current Java program. Click OK

    For the Java Execute script, I chose Shift-F12.

    For executing a Ruby program, I chose I chose Alt+R.

    So, after you configure the three shortcuts, you're done! You can now edit your programming source code in KATE, and quickly save, compile, and execute your Ruby and Java source code with these scripts simply by
    pressing the shortcut key(s).

Script Kate Article

By default, Debian derived Linux distros execute sh scripts using dash rather than bash. Because dash won't work correctly for the above Kate scripts, just substitute bash in place of sh in the above scripts.

Gary Frankenbery
January 4, 2009

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