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Windows Console Replacements, Part 5 - Take Command and ColorConsole

After the last post, I found two more Windows console replacements: ColorConsole and ConEmu. So before I go on to the Linux consoles, let’s see if ColorConsole and ConEmu have anything to teach us.

Today we’re looking at ColorConsole, from ColorConsole is a minimalist console replacement; it has a limited set of features and no help included (there is some limited help on the website). ColorConsole is very small and portable, but not very full-featured or fast (see below).

ColorConsole appears to work like PromptPal and Mintty, by redirecting the console program output and displaying the contents in tabs in a GUI window. Like Mintty and PromptPal, ColorConsole won’t display colors set by console applications or support console apps that change the cursor position. You can set the default foreground and background colors that ColorConsole will use in the display window.

Note that like the rest of the console replacements we’ve seen so far (Mintty, Console2, PromptPal, and PowerCmd), ColorConsole is not a replacement for the Windows CMD command prompt; it is a wrapper for CMD and new tabs always start CMD. ColorConsole can then run other command line applications from CMD, provided they don’t set the screen colors or reposition the cursor.

ColorConsole screenshot

ColorConsole adds a few features not available in the standard Windows console:

  1. Tabbed windows
  2. Configurable colors
  3. Line-based text selection (instead of the column selection in the windows console)
  4. Save the buffer to HTML or RTF
  5. Resize the window, both horizontally & vertically by dragging the corner

Unlike Mintty, ColorConsole’s display output speed is far slower than the Windows console, and more than 50 times (!) slower than Take Command. (See the table below.)

Except possibly for #4 (saving the buffer to HTML or RTF), there’s not much here of interest for incorporating into Take Command:

  1. Take Command has many more options for displaying the tabbed windows (tab locations, icons, size, themes, etc.)
  2. Take Command can use its own colors, or display the colors used by the console applications
  3. Take Command includes both line-based and column-based selection options
  4. Not included in Take Command (though there is an example of how to do this in the Take Command tutorials using the TCC scripting language)
  5. Similar functionality

I’m not aware of any other significant feature in ColorConsole that’s lacking in Take Command, but if anybody knows of something that they would like to see added to Take Command, please let me know.

By way of comparison, let’s take another look at the Take Command window. (The Take Command Explorer-style Folder and List View windows, and the common Command Input window are set to Autohide in order to show a more straightforward comparison with the ColorConsole window.)

Take Command v13 screenshot

Let’s plug ColorConsole into our comparison table:

Take Command
Price (single new copy)
Free (donation requested)
Tabbed Windows UI
Multiple tabbed windows for console applications
Run simple GUI apps in tabs
Customize menu accelerator keys
Customize tabs location (top/bottom/left/right)
Multiple display themes
Horizontal / vertical tab groups
Attach and detach console windows
Optional command input window
Cut and paste block and/or line selection
Continuously variable transparency option
Integrated GUI file explorer
User-defined startup tabs
Programmable tabbed toolbar
Configurable status bar
Full text search in tabbed console windows
Context-sensitive help for all commands and variables
32-bit and 64-bit versions
Display Speed
Take Command
dir /s c:\windows (in seconds) – Windows console: 38.5
Command Prompt
Take Command
GUI IDE w/ batch file debugger
Aliases (command and directory)
Regular Expressions in filenames
Wildcards in pathnames and/or filenames
Enhanced command line editor
Enhanced filename completion
GDirectory Navigation
ANSI X3.64 text output
Built in batch file editor
Direct FTP / HTTP file access (including SSL & SSH)
Network file system access (OpenAFS)
Active Scripting (Perl, Python, VBSscript, Javascript)
Scripting Language
Take Command
Internal Commands
0 *
Internal Variables
0 *
Internal Functions
0 *

*ColorConsole doesn’t include a command interpreter.

Summary: ColorConsole is an improvement on the standard Windows console, but it currently is the weakest (and slowest) of the Windows console replacement alternatives.

Next time: Comparing Take Command and ConEmu.