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Maintain simple sysops schedules the Windows batch script gutter-punk way
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Windows batch script gutter-punk way of maintaining sysops schedules

build-checklists.bat is a very, very, VERY simple Windows batch script to make it easier to maintain complicated schedule templates for computer operators who must live by such checklists, but who may, due to the standard draconian corporate rules, not have available any tools other than what comes stock on their Windows PC -- i.e., batch scripts. It's purpose is to minimize the number of separate documents which must be edited and kept in synch when, for example, a single process is changed or moved in time, that is on multiple different schedules (eg, we no longer do step three in the Frizzleization process, so it must be changed on the Monday schedule, the Saturday night during Lent schedule, the Full Moon When It's Foggy schedule, et cetera).

The schedule templates are generated using the program build-checklists.bat in this directory. It can be run by double-clicking. Note that you should keep the directory structure as it is -- you should run the batch file from the top level of the distribution, and the ./skel and ./steps directories should be located in that top level as well. And your templates will be generated in that top level too.

As distributed, there are two small schedules already set up, called "morning" and "night" which should make it apparent how the thing works. Just double click on build-checklists.bat to see it work. It will create the two new schedule templates in the top-level, called morning.txt and night.txt. You will notice that the steps as I have written them result in a checklist in Emacs' org-mode format, which I personally find quite convenient. You can format your steps files in any way you like, of course.

The directory ./steps contains text files. Each one contains instructions for one single step or logically unified group of steps. The build program concatenates them into the schedule templates. It concatenates them in the order specified in the files in the ./skel directory. Each file in ./skel contains a single list of the file names to be used for the schedule, in the order they will appear in the schedule.

In order to make a change to a single step, edit that step in the steps directory. The name of the step is included in the template when the template is built, at the bottom of the step, so it is easy to find the correct file to edit. Once you have made your changes and saved them, re-run build-checklists.bat to re-build the templates.

The point of doing it this way is that some of the schedules may naturally share steps -- they have the same steps that other schedules have. These steps are used in multiple templates (which means, they are specified in several different ./skel files). Remember that if your change only applies to one schedule (for example, to the Monday through Friday template, but not the Saturday template) then you must create a new step file with a unique name, and change the skel file to include it.

In other words, the steps directory is a database of steps, containing files with names like step1.txt, step2.txt and step3.txt. Each step file contains instructions for that step. The ./skel directory contains lists of which steps, in what order to use to build the templates themselves. The files look like this:




... etc.

The schedule templates are built from this and placed in the current directory. This way, when multiple schedule templates contain the same step, if that step needs to be modified it need only be modified in one place -- in the step file, and then all the templates can be rebuilt at once to reflect the change.

To change the order of steps within a template, without changing the nature of the step itself, simply edit the skel file for that template, moving the step to where you want it. Then rebuild with build-checklists.bat.

Use the templates only as templates. For instance, on Monday, make a copy of your "monday" schedule templates to some daily schedules directory, and then mark things done on that copy, not on the original template. I.e., do not edit the template directly -- your changes will be overwritten the next time build-checklists.bat is run.

If you need to create an entirely new template, create a new skel file in the skel directory listing the steps it will use from the steps directory (creating any you need there) and rebuild.

Note that the templates look better if you have exactly one blank line at the end of each step file.

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