Ruler plugin for Take Command

Version     2023-10-15

Charles Dye


This plugin displays an on-screen ruler in Take Command. This will be helpful if you need to count characters on a line or in a string.


To use this plugin, copy Ruler.dll to some known location on your hard drive. (If you are using the 32-bit version of Take Command, take Ruler-x86.dll instead of Ruler.dll.) Load the .DLL file with a PLUGIN /L command, for example:

plugin /l c:\bin\tcmd\test\ruler.dll

If you copy this file to a subdirectory named PlugIns within your Take Command program directory, the plugin will be loaded automatically when TCC starts.

Plugin Features:

New command: RULER

Modified command: LIST

New hotkey: Shift-F12

Syntax Note:

The syntax definitions in the following text use these conventions for clarity:

BOLD CODEindicates text which must be typed exactly as shown.
CODEindicates optional text, which may be typed as shown or omitted.
Bold italicnames a required argument; a value must be supplied.
Regular italicnames an optional argument.
ellipsis…after an argument means that more than one may be given.

New Command:

RULER — View and set ruler options.

RULER /A:alpha /B:color /C:color /D /E:n /H:color /I:altcols /J:altrows /K:key /L /M:n /P:n /Q /R /S /U:n /W:n /X:n /Z:n

/A:alphaset the ruler’s alpha transparency (alpha mode)128
/B:colorset the ruler’s background color (alpha mode)#B0E0E6
/C:colorset the ruler color (color-key mode)varies
/Drestore the built-in plugin defaults
/E:nenable or disable (show or hide) the ruler1
/H:colorset the color of the ruler’s hash marks (alpha mode)#000000
/I:altcolsset alternate-color column marksnone
/J:altrowsset alternate-color row marksnone
/K:keyset the hotkeyShift-F12
/Llist all supported hotkeys
/M:nset the hotkey mode1
/P:nset the ruler’s position0
/Rrestore saved settings from the registry
/Ssave the current settings to the registry
/U:nintercept the LIST command1
/W:nset the width of the hash marks1
/X:nset the ruler’s transparency mode0
/Z:nset whether the ruler is hidden at startup0

RULER with no options displays the plugin’s current settings.

/K:key allows you to change the plugin’s hotkey. To see a list of all supported hotkeys, use /L. (The list can vary between versions of Take Command, because the plugin hotkey interface changed in version 24.) Note that some key combinations may not work for you — they might be intercepted by the console, by a keystroke alias, or by Take Command itself. If your hotkey doesn’t work, try changing it back to its default value, Shift-F12.

You can disable the hotkey with /K:NONE.

/M:n lets you control what the hotkey does. The default value is 1.

Value:Hotkey action:
0Enabled ↔ Disabled
1Top → Bottom → Disabled → repeat
2Top → Bottom → Left → Disabled → repeat
3Top → Bottom → Left → Right → Disabled → repeat
4Top ↔ Bottom
5Top → Bottom → Left → repeat
6Top → Bottom → Left → Right → repeat
7Top → Left → Disabled → repeat
8Top ↔ Left
11Enable, Top
12Enable, Bottom
13Enable, Left
14Enable, Right
15Left → Right → Disabled → repeat
16Left → Right → repeat

ruler /k:alt-r /m:8

Multiple hotkeys: You can define up to five different hotkeys. The syntax is:

RULER /Kd:key /Md:n

… where d is a digit from 1 to 5. (If omitted, it defaults to 1.)

ruler /k1:alt-t /m1:11 /k2:alt-b /m2:12 /k3:alt-d /m3:10

Alt-T shows the ruler at the top of the tab window, Alt-B puts it at the bottom, and Alt-D disables it.

The ruler is drawn as a transparent, OSD-style window over the Take Command window. /X:n selects the type of transparency used.

/X:0 selects color-key transparency. In this mode, the ruler background is invisible, and only the hash marks are visible. Use /C:color to set the ruler color. This is the default.

/X:1 selects alpha transparency. In this mode, both the ruler’s background and hash marks are visible, and both are equally transparent. Use /A:n to adjust the ruler’s transparency, and /B:color and /H:color to set its colors.

Color-Key Mode Customization:

/C:color sets the ruler color (in color-key mode). You may specify the color in several different ways:

•  as a W3C color name:/C:OrangeOrange
•  as a hexadecimal RGB value:/C:#ADFF2FGreenYellow
•  three-digit hex RGB is okay too:/C:#0FFAqua
•  comma-separated red, green, and blue values:/C:255,215,0Gold
•  hexadecimal is okay too:/C:0xBA,0x55,0xD3MediumOrchid
•  as a console color index:/C:$14bright yellow

In color-key mode, this plugin stores a different ruler color for each of the 16 possible console background colors. For example, the ruler defaults to ‘DeepSkyBlue’ when the console background is black, but ‘CadetBlue’ when it’s bright white. When you change the ruler’s color with /C:, you are setting the ruler color for the current console background color. If you change the console’s colors, e.g. with CLS /C, you will get a different ruler color — which you can again customize with /C:.

/W:n sets the width of the hash marks. Legal values are 0 to 3; the default is 1.

Alpha Mode Customization:

/B:color sets the background color of the ruler (in alpha mode). You may specify the color in several different ways:

•  as a W3C color name:/B:OrangeOrange
•  as a hexadecimal RGB value:/B:#ADFF2FGreenYellow
•  three-digit hex RGB is okay too:/B:#0FFAqua
•  comma-separated red, green, and blue values:/B:255,215,0Gold
•  hexadecimal is okay too:/B:0xBA,0x55,0xD3MediumOrchid
•  as a console color index:/B:$14bright yellow

Because the ruler is transparent, the color you actually see will be a combination of the ruler’s background color and whatever is underneath it. For example, an orange ruler will appear to be a very dark orange if it’s over a black background, but it will look much brighter over a white background.

/H:color specifies the color of the hash marks on the ruler (in alpha mode). /H: supports all the same color formats as /B:.

If you give a /B: but no /H:, RULER will make the hash marks either black or white, whichever gives the better contrast.

/A:alpha lets you set the ruler’s transparency (in alpha mode). Values range from 64 (very faint) to 255 (completely opaque). The default is 128.

/W:n sets the width of the hash marks. Legal values are 0 to 3; the default is 1.

/P:n sets the ruler’s current position. The default is /P:0. (You can also move the ruler with the hotkey.)

0The ruler is at the top of the tab window.
1The ruler is at the bottom of the tab window.
2The ruler is at the left of the tab window.
3The ruler is at the right of the tab window.

/E:n lets you toggle the ruler on or off. (You can also enable or disable the ruler with the hotkey.)

/Z:n determines whether the ruler is hidden the next time this plugin is loaded. /Z:0 shows the ruler at startup; /Z:1 hides it. The default is /Z:0. This option does not show or hide the current ruler; it only affects future instances of this plugin.

/U:n controls whether or not this plugin intercepts the LIST command. /U:1 allows the plugin to intercept LIST; /U:0 disables this feature. The default is /U:1. This option does not affect the current instance; it only takes effect the next time you load this plugin.

/I:n[,n…]=color : You may want to emphasize particular columns. /I: lets you draw hash marks in a different color at a few specific columns. Pass it up to sixteen column numbers separated by commas, followed by an equals sign and a color name:

ruler /i:80,100=yellow

… to make the marks at columns 80 and 100 yellow.

Alternate syntax: /I:*n=color will draw every nth hash mark in the alternate color. For example:

ruler /i:*20=yellow

… will mark every 20th column in yellow.

This option does not do much sanity checking on the color. It’s up to you to make sure that your alternate color is easily distinguished from the regular hash marks color, console background, and ruler background (if any). Note that there is only one alternate column color; it does not change according to the console background color, as the /C: color does. Also note that /I: colors specific columns; it does not affect vertical rulers.

/I by itself removes all alternate-color column marks.

/J:n[,n…]=color lets you draw different-colored hash marks at a few specific rows. The syntax is the same as for /I: above, but the values are row numbers instead of columns. Note that this option only affects vertical rulers. /J by itself removes all alternate-color row marks.

ruler /j:25=yellow

/D restores the original plugin default settings (shown in the third column of the table above). /R restores the settings saved to the registry, if any. You cannot combine the two.

/S saves the current settings to the registry. They will be loaded automatically the next time you load this plugin.

LIST: This plugin intercepts the LIST command to adjust the position of the ruler. The ruler will be restored to its normal position the next time the prompt is displayed. LIST’s operation is unchanged otherwise.

You can use RULER /U: to disable or enable this feature the next time the plugin is loaded.

New Hotkey:

Shift-F12 — Hides, unhides, or moves the ruler.

You can change the default key assignment with RULER /K:key. You can use RULER /M:n to change the way the hotkey works.

You can define as many as five hotkeys by using the extended syntax.

Color Formats:

Several of RULER’s options expect a color argument. Several different methods of specifying a color are supported:

•  As a W3C color name: As in CSS. This is the most intuitive syntax. Case is not significant, and color names containing ‘gray’ may be spelled using ‘grey’ instead if you prefer.

•  As hexadecimal RGB, with a leading # sign. Again, as in in CSS. Use either six digits (#rrggbb) or three digits (#rgb).

•  As red, green, and blue values, 0 to 255, separated by commas. This just happens to be the format returned by the @COLOR function. You can give values in hexadecimal with a leading 0x — although the #rrggbb syntax is probably more convenient if you prefer hex.

•  Finally, you can specify colors as console color numbers, as in many internal commands. Use a leading $ to indicate a console color. The value must, of course, be 0 to 15. Under Windows Vista or later, the current RGB value for the given color will be read from the console. Under Windows XP the necessary API doesn’t exist, so the $n syntax will instead return a default value from an internal list.

Startup Message:

This plugin displays an informational line when it initializes. The message will be suppressed in transient or pipe shells. You can disable it for all shells by defining an environment variable named NOLOADMSG, for example:

set /e /u noloadmsg=1


Version:Date:Changes: ShowCmdHelp() to report VER_PATCH. the plugin’s web address. ParseArgs.cpp to the current version. a call to QueryIsFile(), which appears to have issues in TCC v30.00.20.
1.0.22021-12-22No longer links to TakeCommandIPC() dynamically. That hasn’t been necessary for a long, long time.
1.0.12021-12-21Fixed a problem calling TakeCommandIPC() in 32-bit TCC.
1.0.02021-10-02First release.

Status and Licensing:

This plugin is © Copyright 2023, Charles Dye. Unaltered copies of the binary and documentation files may be freely distributed without restriction. I make no guarantee and give no warranty for its operation. If you find a problem, you can report it in the JP Software support forum.


You can download the current version of the plugin from