Data Science 101: Reasons Why You Should Learn the Command Line

Mavis LohUncategorized

Auditing and Debugging is Easier

It is so much easier to track all of your activity on the command line, making auditing and debugging much easier. You can easily look through the log to track every single action you took. Whereas a misclick may lead to a mistake when you’re working with a graphical user interface (GUI), and there’s likely no record of what you last did.

You Probably Type Faster Than You Click

Research shows that mouse use plateaus rather quickly, while keyboard use might just be more efficient. Although this has been proven, most experienced users still rarely used the efficient keyboard shortcuts, favouring the use of icon toolbars instead. So, if you feel like you’re working quickly through a GUI, there’s a good chance that at least for some tasks, you’ll be more efficient using the command line.

It’s Less Resource-Intensive

When you’re working with limited computing resources or simply want to maximise your speed, the using the command line is virtually always going to be better than using a GUI. This is because using a GUI means resources must be dedicated to rendering the graphical output. Furthermore, the time interval between the stimulation and response will be higher when using a GUI, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to control a mouse that’s a second or two behind your actual movements. However, if you’re just typing in the command line, this lag is likely to be lower and it will also be easier to handle since you know precisely where your cursor is at any given time.

Command Line Skills Make You More Flexible

In a data science role, you’ll often find you have more flexibility if you can use the terminal rather than having to rely on clicking through GUIs. Since the command line is a program that runs other programs, the interaction between programs is often easier to adjust in the command line. Mastering how to use the command line will make it relatively easy to write scripts, and it helps to make building all sorts of data pipelines and workflows simpler. You can always use the GUI when you prefer, but the command line can provide you with more direct power and control for times when you need it.

You Need Command Line Skills for the Cloud

Cloud services often are connected to and operated through a command line interface. This is particularly important for more advanced data science work like deep learning, where your local computing resources are likely to be insufficient for the tasks you’d like to perform. So, if you’re interested in learning advanced techniques like deep learning, learning how to use the command line will be necessary for moving your data to and from the cloud efficiently.

Now that you’re convinced to learn the command line, you should check out our Data Science 101 course where you gain some basic python and data analytics skills to work using the command line. There is no prerequisite knowledge is required to take these courses!