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It is often convenient to simply write what one wants done into a file or script, and execute the script as though it were any other operating-system shell command. The interface to more weighty programs is often provided in the form of a script, and users frequently build their own scripts or customize existing ones to suit particular needs. Scripting is arguably the most frequent programming task performed. For many users, it is the only programming they will ever do.

Operating systems such as Unix and DOS (the command-line interface provided in Windows) provide such a scripting mechanism, but the scripting language in both cases is very rudimentary. Often a script is just a sequence or batch of commands that one would type to the shell prompt. It saves the user from having to type every one of the shell commands individually each time they require the same or similar sequence to be performed. Some scripting languages throw in a small amount of programmability in the form of a conditional and a loop, but that is about all. This is enough for smallish tasks, but as one's scripts become bigger and more demanding, as scripts invariably seem to do, one often feels the need for a fuller fledged programming language. A Scheme with an adequate operating-system interface makes scripting easy and maintainable.

This section will describe how to write scripts in Scheme. Since there is wide variation in the various Scheme dialects on how to accomplish this, we will concentrate on the MzScheme dialect, and document in appendix R the modifications needed for other dialects. We will also concentrate on the Unix operating system for the moment; appendix S will deal with the DOS counterpart.

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