Documentation-friendly Tree Listing for Bash

Posted Friday, June 14, 2024 by Sri. Tagged TOOL

When writing documentation or doing codebase analysis, I often like to copy/paste a clean recursive directory listing into a document so I can group and annotate them. This is particularly important with badly-organized code bases.

The option I knew about was tree, but it generates very ugly ANSI graphics that you can turn off, but it also loses the indentation. This is awful.

Maybe there are other utilities, but I was too irked to laboriously install and trial dozens of possibilities when I knew exactly what I wanted.

Thanks to ChatGPT helping me with scripting syntax, I was able to make a bash script that does what I want. Here's Sri's Documentation-Friendly Directory Listing utility! Throw it into your ~/bin directory as stree, then chmod a+x ~/bin/stree to make it executable.

if [ "$1" = "-h" ] || [ "$1" = "--help" ]; then
echo "Sri's Documentation-Friendly Directory Listing"
echo "- prints a directory tree the way I like it"
echo "- usage: stree"
echo "- usage: stree [directory] [prefix]"
exit 0

stree() {
local dir="$1"
local indent="$2"
for file in "$dir"/*; do
if [ -d "$file" ]; then
echo "${indent}${file##*/}/"
stree "$file" "$indent$indent"
echo "${indent}${file##*/}"

echo "${PWD##*/}/"
# first arg or current directory
stree "${1:-.}" "${2:-$DEFAULT_PREFIX}"

Running the script produces a listing from the current working directory like this:

. AutoComplete.css
. AutoComplete.jsx
. EdgeEditor.jsx
. d3-simplenetgraph.js
. filter/
. . FilterEnums.js
. . FilterGroup.jsx

If you don't like the style of indent, use the verbose format:

stree . "  "

If you're on a Mac, you can use the pbcopy command to redirect output to the clipboard as follows:

stree | pbcopy

Linux distributions likely have their own version that works with X (e.g. xclip).