DEF command

The DEF command defines or lists procedures that associate a group of commands to a single command name. This command can be used to$ provide a logic close to macros provided by the Doskey command.


DEF [/f] [/l] [name[=command-block]]

Defines an procedure that is internal to Picobat, or lists already defined procedures.

DEF allows redefining an internal command. This functionnality is interesting if you have to hook some internal commands.

DEF created procedures can call themselves. If DEF is used to create such procedure, do not forget that it can lead to infinite loop when used (This cannot be checked as the halting problem is undecidable).

Defining Aliases

The DEF command can be used to make very simple or complex procedures. The most simple procedure is probably making a alias. An alias is just a shortcut command used to call another command.

A typical example of an alias is given by the only procedure defined by pBat by default, in pBat_Auto.bat. It defines HELP as an alias of HLP using the following syntax:

DEF /f help=hlp.bat $*

Every time the command help is invoked with whatever parameters, then the command HLP is executed with the same parameters. Note the use of /f to force redifining HELP command.

Making complex procedure

The DEF command also allows for more complex procedures. To do so the multiple commands used must be enclosed in parenthesis (forming a command block).

Both IF and FOR commands can be used in aliases so it is possible to run loops inside aliases, for example, the following macro can be used to compute the length of a string:

As explained above, parameters can be retrieved individually using the $1 to $9 symbols, and all of them can be using $*. As such it is possible to make some Pretty elaborate procedures can then be made by combining commands. For example, the following procedure computes the length in characters of a variable:

:: strlen str count
:: Counts characters in !str! and stores the result in !count!
def strlen=(
 set _str=!$1!#"
 for %%P in (4096 2048 1024 512 256 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1) do (
  if "!_str:~%%P,1!" NEQ "" (
   set /a $2+=%%P
   set "_str=!_str:~%%P!"

Once declared, the procedure can then be called as follows to print the result of the operation:

set my_string=my custom string
strlen my_string my_count
echo string "%my_string%" length is %my_count%

The only type of expansion that can be used inside procedures is delayed expansion.

The preceeding procedures also takes advantage of local procedure variables that have a name prefixed by _. Changes to these prefixed variable will be discarded at the end of the procedure, so their values in the global scope (ie. outside of any procedure) or any parent procedure scopes will not be affected by changes, thus avoiding conflicts if the procedures are wisely programmed.

Procedure local variables

As stated above, variable names prefixed by _ are procedure local variables that have a restricted scope (ie. Changes to them will not necesseraly affect the entire script).

When a procedure is started, then all the procedure local variables are duplicated, but the procedure inherits values it had in the previous context. When the procedure exits, the changes made to the procedure local variable are discarded, unless they are marked inherit using set /x (unsupported yet).

Note that all non prefixed are globals and changes will affect any part of the script.


Does not exist in cmd.exe. This is the closest equivalent of Doskey.exe though alias also works in batch scripts.

See also

Command list