5 Mar 2023
  • Website Development

Tips for Writing Better Shell/Python Scripts

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


Shell and Python scripts are potent ways to automate tasks and increase productivity. Whether you're a seasoned developer or just starting, there are always ways to improve your scripting skills. This post will explore some tips for writing better and more productive Shell/Python scripts.

Plan before you start coding

One of the most important things you can do before writing any code is to plan your script. Start by defining the problem you want to solve, identify the requirements, and consider any edge cases that might arise. This process will help you to create a clear and structured plan for your script.

Use comments

Adding comments to your code is essential for clarity and understanding. Comments are notes you add to your code to explain what it does and why you wrote it in a particular way. Make sure to add comments to your script, explaining the purpose of each section of code and how it fits into the overall structure.

    # This is a comment in Python
    # It explains the purpose of the code below

    def calculate_average(numbers):
        # Calculate and return the average of a list of numbers
        total = sum(numbers)
        return total / len(numbers)

Write clear and concise code

Clear and concise code is easier to read and understand and less likely to contain errors. Use meaningful variable names, avoid abbreviations, and follow a consistent coding style. This will make your code more readable, which will help you and others to understand it better.

    # Python code example
    def greet(name):
        print(f"Hello, {name}!")

    # Shell script example
    # This is a comment in Shell
    echo "Hello, World!"

Use functions

Functions are a way to break down complex scripts into smaller, more manageable parts. They can be reused multiple times throughout your code, which reduces the amount of code you need to write and makes it easier to maintain. Use functions to perform specific tasks within your script, such as reading a file or parsing data.

    # Python code example using functions
    def calculate_square(num):
        return num ** 2

    def calculate_cube(num):
        return num ** 3

    result_square = calculate_square(5)
    result_cube = calculate_cube(3)

    print(f"Square: {result_square}")
    print(f"Cube: {result_cube}")

Handle errors gracefully

Errors can occur at any time during the execution of your script. Handling errors gracefully means that your script should be able to recover from mistakes, display helpful error messages, and continue to run without crashing. You can use error-handling techniques such as try-except blocks to handle errors in your script.

    # Python code example handling errors
        file = open("nonexistent.txt", "r")
        content =
    except FileNotFoundError:
        print("The file does not exist.")
    except Exception as e:
        print(f"An error occurred: {e}")

Use libraries and modules

Libraries and modules are pre-written code that you can use in your script. They save time and effort and provide additional functionality you may be unable to write yourself. Use libraries and modules to perform tasks such as reading and writing files, connecting to databases, and sending an email.

Test your script

Testing is an essential part of script writing. Test your script to ensure it works as intended and can handle different inputs and edge cases. This will help you catch errors early and ensure your script is robust and reliable.

Document your script

Document your code to explain what it does and how it works. Documentation is essential for any codebase, and it's vital for scripts you might not touch again for months or even years. Use a consistent format for your documentation, such as the Python docstring convention.

Use version control

Version control is a way to manage changes to your code over time. It allows you to track changes, collaborate with others, and revert to previous versions if necessary. Use version control for all of your scripts to keep track of changes and ensure you always have a working understanding of your code.

Learn from others

Finally, learning from others is one of the best ways to improve your scripting skills. You can learn much from others' coding styles, techniques, and solutions to common problems. Read code written by experienced developers, participate in online communities, and attend meetups or conferences.


Writing better and more productive Shell/Python scripts requires careful planning, clear and concise code, error handling, testing, and documentation. Use functions, libraries, and modules to break down complex tasks, and use version control to manage changes to your code. Finally, learn from others to improve your skills and become a better scriptwriter. By following these tips, you can create powerful, useful scripts.

Tyrone Showers