Groovy One-Liner

It's been a while since I wrote a blog article, so I'm using this one-liner as an excuse. In case you're new here, I do a lot of Python development. In the world of Python, you need to have a special file in a directory before you can use Python code within that directory. Yeah, yeah... that's not exactly the clearest way to explain things, but it'll have to do.

This special file is called Having this file in a directory that contains Python code turns that directory into what's called a "python package." We like Python packages. They make our lives so much fun!

Anyhoo, I was working on a project last night, and I wanted to create a bunch of placeholder directories that I plan to use later on. I plan on keeping Python code in these directories, so putting the special file in them is what I was looking to do. I didn't want to have to create the file in each directory manually, or copy/paste the file all over the place, so I investigated a way to do it quickly from the command line.

One of my buddies brought an interesting command to my attention recently: xargs. I had seen it before in various tutorials online, but I never bothered to learn about it. This seemed like as good a time as any, so I started playing. The result of my efforts follows:

find . -type d | xargs -I {} touch {}/

What it does is:

  • recursively finds (find) all directories (-type d) within the current directory (.)
  • pipes (|) each directory to xargs, which makes sure that the file exists in each one (touch {}/
  • the -I {} tells xargs what to use as a placeholder when considering each directory found by the find command

Turns out that xargs can be used for all sorts of good stuff. My friend brought it up as a way to get rid of those nasty .svn directories on his path to "Mercurial bliss."

find . -name ".svn" -type d | xargs -I {} rm -Rf {}

How beautiful!


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