I wanted to experiment on writing command line tools with Swift, I wrote a simple command-line pomodoro timer. I had to find answers to quite a number of questions to achieve this, but Internet is great at finding answers to things. So here we go.

How to write a progress bar on the command line?

I had never written a progress bar on the command line before and this StackOverflow question was of great help to understand how they work.

How to start with Swift command-line tools?

To get started, I recommend this Swift Talk video (a little over 17 minutes long). As I had trouble setting up dependencies right (the video is getting old and Swift changed in the meantime), this post about the Package Manager on Swift’s website, was also pretty useful to get a working Xcode project with the Commander dependency setup right.

Basically, everything you need to type in the terminal is:

swift package init --type executable
# Setting up dependencies in `Package.swift`
swift package update
swift package generate-xcodeproj
swift build

How to output things to the standard output?

Well print() is the easy answer by it doesn’t manage escaping characters right. So FileHandle.standardOutput was what I was looking for to manage a proper terminal progress bar.

What does the results look like?

Try it here.

What are the next steps?

  • ✔︎ Ask for the description of the task before starting the pomodoro;
  • ✔︎ Log the pomodoro in a file for archives and time-reporting;
  • ✔︎ Notify the user in the notification center or by a sound when the timer ends.;
  • ✔︎ Integrate with other stuff via Shell scripts.;
  • Use the full width of the terminal window instead of a fixed length (which should mean reading environment variables);
  • ✔︎ Build for release;
  • Distribute.