Scott Hanselman

C# and .NET Core scripting with the "dotnet-script" global tool

October 12, 2018 Comment on this post [12] Posted in DotNetCore | Open Source
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dotnet scriptYou likely know that open source .NET Core is cross platform and it's super easy to do "Hello World" and start writing some code.

You just install .NET Core, then "dotnet new console" which will generate a project file and basic app, then "dotnet run" will compile and run your app? The 'new' command will create all the supporting code, obj, and bin folders, etc. When you do "dotnet run" it actually is a combination of "dotnet build" and "dotnet exec whatever.dll."

What could be easier?

What about .NET Core as scripting?

Check out dotnet script:

C:\Users\scott\Desktop\scriptie> dotnet tool install -g dotnet-script
You can invoke the tool using the following command: dotnet-script
C:\Users\scott\Desktop\scriptie>copy con helloworld.csx
Console.WriteLine("Hello world!");
1 file(s) copied.
C:\Users\scott\Desktop\scriptie>dotnet script helloworld.csx
Hello world!

NOTE: I was a little tricky there in step two. I did a "copy con filename" to copy from the console to the destination file, then used Ctrl-Z to finish the copy. Feel free to just use notepad or vim. That's not dotnet-script-specific, that's Hanselman-specific.

Pretty cool eh? If you were doing this in Linux or OSX you'll need to include a "shebang" as the first line of the script. This is a standard thing for scripting files like bash, python, etc.

#!/usr/bin/env dotnet-script
Console.WriteLine("Hello world");

This lets the operating system know what scripting engine handles this file.

If you you want to refer to a NuGet package within a script (*.csx) file, you'll use the Roslyn #r syntax:

#r "nuget: AutoMapper, 6.1.0"

Even better! Once you have "dotnet-script" installed as a global tool as above:

dotnet tool install -g dotnet-script

You can use it as a REPL! Finally, the C# REPL (Read Evaluate Print Loop) I've been asking for for only a decade! ;)

C:\Users\scott\Desktop\scriptie>dotnet script
> 2+2
> var x = "scott hanselman";
> x.ToUpper()

This is super useful for a learning tool if you're teaching C# in a lab/workshop situation. Of course you could also learn using in the browser as well.

In the past you may have used ScriptCS for C# scripting. There's a number of cool C#/F# scripting options. This is certainly not a new thing:

In this case, I was very impressed with the easy of dotnet-script as a global tool and it's simplicity. Go check out and try it out today!

Sponsor: Check out the latest JetBrains Rider with built-in spell checking, enhanced debugger, Docker support, full C# 7.3 support, publishing to IIS and more advanced Unity support.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 15, 2018 3:39
That looks kind of "BASIC", like Trash 80 kinda basic.
October 15, 2018 5:26
You probably haven't heard of PowerShell, have you? It enables .NET scripting without all these fluff.

Also, please use the word "super" less often, no matter what. When I hear "easy", I usually pay attention. When I hear "super easy", I dismiss it as advertisement.
October 15, 2018 6:33
I'm sorry for being the grinch here, but why and how is it "cool" to script something that was elevated from the error-prone command line to a GUI with the invention of Visual Studio (and GUIs in general) about 20 years ago? Why on earth does anyone think it is cool to first open a console to type some commands (that you have to learn and remember) and then open the IDE to work on the resulting files?! To be honest, I think .NET Core as a framework is actually very modern and sophisticated, but the toolchain around it is ugly and daunting as hell. What's the benefit here? Scripting is a solution to the automation problem of dumb and repeating tasks that (in the case of "dotnet new", for example) was solved several centuries ago. It shouldn't be treated as the first class citizen of programming, IMHO.

And just to be clear, I am only refering to the dotnet stuff here ("dotnet new", "dotnet run" and whatnot). I am well aware of the benefits of scripting to automate administrative stuff, of course. PowerShell is my friend ;)
October 15, 2018 7:19
I like REPLs and things like that to try some little code like ToStrings with format or something like that. But we always had C# Interactive from Visual Studio and LinqPad (with premium features like a debugger and its scripts can be executed too). I like this since I can use it from the console, but it's not the first or the best.
October 15, 2018 7:26
@Fleet Command
<sarcasm>You probably haven't heard of Bash, have you? It enables PowerShell scripting without all these fluff.</sarcasm>

Your comment seems a little bit off-topic.. Dotnet script is a great way to lower the barrier of entry for C-Sharp as a "scripting language". Java 11 does the same thing, it allows you to run a single *.java file without compiling it (with a help of shebang).
Second, dotnet command line tools are also awesome. Dotnet is not being now only "windows/visual studio" specific . It now runs everywhere, which means that people will try to create apps with vim/emacs on linux, godknowswhateditor MacOS uses and so on.
Again look into the Java world (i wont even start with JavaScript here). People have to download Java SDK and Maven and use Maven to create projects from archetypes. It is almost the same thing, but dotnet delivers it as a part of SDK for the best user experience possible, and to make sure every one uses the same project structure and best practices from MS.
October 15, 2018 8:33

Although your point about multi-platform support seems to be valid, I'd still say that just having the option of working on the command line doesn't make it the new "cool" way of doing it. Otherwise there would be no GUIs at all. The .NET framework is not the first multi-platform "thing" in the IT world and others simply provide useful GUI implementations additional to the CLI option. For example, in 99% of all cases I use some kind of GUI to copy files (regardless of the OS I'm on) and still I have automated my backup logic using robocopy - but nobody advertizes robocopy to be the one and only "cool" way of copying a file.

Also, I doubt that any real-life .NET projects are being done in vim or emacs, but in an appropriate IDE, where GUI wizards exist for so many reasons.

Again, I don't hate the CLI or scripting. I just can't follow the reasoning behind the hype that it's the new stylish way of doing the same stuff that we've done for centuries without learning new CLI commands for every tool or framework.
October 15, 2018 18:43
Looking forward to editing and maintaining make files all over again after a 10+ year hiatus.

.NET Core == edit config files and *yuck* maintain someone elses 4 year old config file in 2024.

October 16, 2018 20:59
Fleet Command states

"You probably haven't heard of PowerShell, have you? It enables .NET scripting without all these fluff."

Seems he/she doesn't know *nixes have several shells. So if I want may change my shell language, sir?
October 17, 2018 1:04
C# Script is also supported in Azure Functions, and can be edited directly from the portal. It can be useful to quickly prototype a function, though I probably wouldn't use it for production-grade code.
October 17, 2018 20:26
I love this tool. I started to use dotnet script files for my data scripts. It is really neat to use C# and well-known libraries for processing, cleaning and transforming data.
October 21, 2018 14:50
As one of the collaborators I would like to point out that Dotnet-Script is not at all restricted to the command line. In fact, we have worked closely with the OmniSharp team to support debugging and language services from VS Code.

From within an empty folder

dotnet script init

This will create the launch configuration we need to debug a script.

Start code in oir current folder.

code .

That's all. We can now set a breakpoint anywhere in our script(s) and hit F5 to launch the debugger.
Notice that we also provide true intellisense like we are used to in a "normal" C# project.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.