This site is a preview of the curriculum for our Summer 2018 bootcamp in Burlington, Vermont. As we continue our preparation, courses and lessons will appear and disappear; we will rename, rearrange, clarify, and obfuscate as needed... Please consider this a work in progress and keep checking in.

 Learn to Code with JavaScript:
The Command Line


The Command Line

  • the TERMINAL is a window into which you can talk directly to your computer
    • aka console or command line or command prompt or shell

Shall we play a game?

from WarGames, (1983)

  • when you type into the terminal, you are issuing COMMANDS to the computer
  • a CLI (Command Line Interface) is different from the GUI (Graphical User Interface) you are used to
    • more primitive
    • more powerful

Opening the Terminal

  • to open your Terminal:
    • Mac OS: launch the "Terminal" application
    • Windows: launch "Windows PowerShell"
  • Important: make your terminal as **tall* as possible*
    • errors are often long and you want to start reading at the very top without scrolling
    • make it look like this:

terminal next to browser

Lab: Interactive Calculator

  1. open a terminal
  2. type node -- that's you commanding the computer to launch node
  3. press the return key (also called enter)
  4. see the > prompt
  5. type 1 + 1
  6. press the return key again
  7. see the 2
  • Yay! Your computer is an expensive calculator!
  • Bonus: what other math can you do?

node is an interactive JavaScript interpreter

  • From now on, whenever you see text in the code font, try typing it into the terminal and see what happens!


  • a DIRECTORY is a location on your hard disk
    • also called a FOLDER
  • directories can contain FILES
  • directories can also contain other directories (called SUBDIRECTORIES)

The Current Directory

  • inside the Terminal, you are always inside a directory
  • it is very important not to get lost! You must try to remember which directory you are in.
  • If you forget, you can use a special command called pwd

Home Directory

  • when you first open the Terminal you are in your HOME DIRECTORY
  • usually you don't want to store files directly in here

Listing Directory Contents

  • when you type ls ("list") it shows the contents of the current directory
    • On Windows you might need to type dir instead

Making a directory

  • when you type mkdir ("make directory") it creates a new SUBDIRECTORY inside the current directory

    mkdir code

Changing directories

  • cd ("change dir") moves you into a different directory
  • For example, cd code would move you into a subdirectory named code
  • If you ever get lost, type cd all on its own and press the return key. This will send you back to your home directory.
    • (unix shell only, not Windows)

Basic Command Line Glossary

  • pwd ("print working dir") -- shows the name of the current directory
  • ls ("list") -- shows the contents of the current directory
  • mkdir ("make dir") -- creates a new SUBDIRECTORY inside the current directory
  • cd ("change dir") -- move into a different directory

These apply to Unix shells, but most work in Windows too

LAB: make a subdirectory and then enter it

  1. open Terminal
  2. make a new subdirectory using mkdir code
  3. change into that directory using cd code
  4. list its contents using ls (and note that it's empty)
    • On Windows you might need to type dir instead of ls


  • a file is a place on disk for storing stuff
  • "stuff" here could be anything at all
    • documents, pictures, sounds, applications...
  • every file lives inside a directory

Text Editor

  • a text editor is a program that edits a text file
  • a text editor is like a word processor
  • but a text editor is not a word processor
  • You probably have VS Code
    • others include TextMate, Notepad++, Sublime Text, Vim, Emacs, Atom
    • but NOT TextEdit or Notepad or Microsoft Word

Source File

  • source code is the essence of a program
  • source files are text files that contain source code
  • to RUN a JavaScript program you type node and then the name of the source file

  • The Recipe Metaphor

    • source file = recipe
    • running = cooking

LAB: Hello, World

  1. Make sure you are in your code subdirectory using pwd
  2. Open this directory
    • for Atom, use atom .
    • for VSCode, use code .
  3. Create a file named hello.js using the File > New menu
  4. Inside this file, put the following source code:

    console.log("Hello, World!");
  5. Save the file

  6. Go back to the terminal

  7. Run this file using node hello.js

What happens? Is this what you expected?


bash shortcuts


  • use ESC instead of ALT for the above
  • ESC-Backspace (delete previous word)
  • up/down arrow (scroll through history)

Next Steps

See for a great command-line tutorial.



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