The TAP shell provides a command line interface to querying TAP servers, complete with metadata management and command line completion. See the tapsh manual for more information.
In lieu of a screenshot, we've made a movie showing tapsh in action.
If you have a system running Debian, Ubuntu, or similar, tapsh installation is easy -- just add our APT repository to your sources.list if on Debian-derived systems and say aptitude install tapsh (or equivalent).
You can then start tapsh by opening a terminal window and typing "tapsh".
On non-APT systems, the most convenient way to run tapsh is to download tapsh.jar (which is roughly 10 Megabytes since it includes a python runtime). It is much slower in startup than the CPython-based versions, but there's no hassle with dependencies and such. If you find you are using tapsh a lot, you can switch to the CPython version at any time without losing any data.
To start the jar tapsh, open a terminal window ("Command Prompt" in Windows), go to the directory to downloaded tapsh.jar into and type something like java -jar tapsh.jar there.
On non-APT systems, the preferred way to install tapsh is to grab the tapsh tarball. In the simplest case, you should be able to simply say
tar -xvzf tapsh-latest.tar.gz cd tapsh* sudo python setup.py install
tapsh's setup will then usually pull some necessary dependencies. If that does not work, or you do not want a system-wide installation, please read our page on setuptools.
You will almost certainly want to install topcat alongside tapsh. There is no Debian package of topcat yet.
On OS X systems, at least of the 10.6 line, the python readline module distributed with the system is inadequate for tapsh. The result is that command line completion does not work. To fix this, please install the readline module from the python package index.