Thursday, May 2, 2013

Recording dialog-based interactive user input using expect on Linux

This is a how to successfully combine the shell script dialog tool with expect in order to record all user interactions and repeat them later. You can apply expect to record almost anything on a terminal, I applied it on a very complex dialog-based installation wizard with 100% success. There's nothing special here, nor a magic spell. The solution is pretty straightforward: start recording, launch dialogs + interact, stop record and finally replay it on a hit.

Show the example dialogs below:

# : all dialogs in one script, 1- a radio list, 2- a Yes/No dialog, 3-An input box

radiolist_result=$(dialog --stdout --clear --backtitle "Combining dialog w/ expect" \
   --radiolist "Select distro:" 10 40 3 1 "CentOS" off 2 "Ubuntu" on 3 "Debian" off)

dialog --stdout --clear --title "Simple question" --backtitle "Combining dialog w/ expect" \
  --yesno "Are you having fun?" 6 25 && yesno_result=Yes || yesno_result=No

inputbox_result=$(dialog --stdout --clear  --backtitle "Combining dialog w/ expect" \
  --inputbox "Enter your name:" 8 40)

I use CentOS 6 for this demo, but it seems to work on other distros:

$ yum -y install expect

Assign execution permissions to

$ chmod +x

Start recording using autoexpect:

$ autoexpect
autoexpect started, file is script.exp

Call and interact:

$ ./
Eduardo Lago Aguilar
By pressing Ctrl+D end the session watch. Then verify the recording by calling the generated script:

$ ./script.exp
Eduardo Lago Aguilar

Very simple isn't? See more.

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