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ArgParse.jl documentation

This Julia package allows the creation of user-friendly command-line interfaces to Julia programs: the program defines which arguments, options and sub-commands it accepts, and the ArgParse module does the actual parsing, issues errors when the input is invalid, and automatically generates help and usage messages.

Users familiar with Python's argparse module will find many similarities, but some important differences as well.

Installation

To install the module, use Julia's package manager:

julia> Pkg.add("ArgParse")

Dependencies will be installed automatically.

Quick overview and a simple example

First of all, the module needs to be loaded:

using ArgParse

There are two main steps for defining a command-line interface: creating an ArgParseSettings object, and populating it with allowed arguments and options using either the macro @add_arg_table or the function add_arg_table (see the Argument table section):

s = ArgParseSettings()
@add_arg_table s begin
    "--opt1"
        help = "an option with an argument"
    "--opt2", "-o"
        help = "another option with an argument"
        arg_type = Int
        default = 0
    "--flag1"
        help = "an option without argument, i.e. a flag"
        action = :store_true
    "arg1"
        help = "a positional argument"
        required = true
end

In the macro, options and positional arguments are specified within a begin...end block, by one or more names in a line, optionally followed by a list of settings. So, in the above example, there are three options:

There is also only one positional argument, "arg1", which is declared as mandatory.

When the settings are in place, the actual argument parsing is performed via the parse_args function:

parsed_args = parse_args(ARGS, s)

The parameter ARGS can be omitted. In case no errors are found, the result will be a Dict{String,Any} object. In the above example, it will contain the keys "opt1", "opt2", "flag1" and "arg1", so that e.g. parsed_args["arg1"] will yield the value associated with the positional argument.

(The parse_args function also accepts an optional as_symbols keyword argument: when set to true, the result of the parsing will be a Dict{Symbol,Any}, which can be useful e.g. for passing it as the keywords to a Julia function.)

Putting all this together in a file, we can see how a basic command-line interface is created:

using ArgParse

function parse_commandline()
    s = ArgParseSettings()

    @add_arg_table s begin
        "--opt1"
            help = "an option with an argument"
        "--opt2", "-o"
            help = "another option with an argument"
            arg_type = Int
            default = 0
        "--flag1"
            help = "an option without argument, i.e. a flag"
            action = :store_true
        "arg1"
            help = "a positional argument"
            required = true
    end

    return parse_args(s)
end

function main()
    parsed_args = parse_commandline()
    println("Parsed args:")
    for (arg,val) in parsed_args
        println("  $arg  =>  $val")
    end
end

main()

If we save this as a file called myprog1.jl, we can see how a --help option is added by default, and a help message is automatically generated and formatted:

$ julia myprog1.jl --help
usage: myprog1.jl [--opt1 OPT1] [-o OPT2] [--flag1] [-h] arg1

positional arguments:
  arg1             a positional argument

optional arguments:
  --opt1 OPT1      an option with an argument
  -o, --opt2 OPT2  another option with an argument (type: Int64,
                   default: 0)
  --flag1          an option without argument, i.e. a flag
  -h, --help       show this help message and exit

Also, we can see how invoking it with the wrong arguments produces errors:

$ julia myprog1.jl
required argument arg1 was not provided
usage: myprog1.jl [--opt1 OPT1] [-o OPT2] [--flag1] [-h] arg1

$ julia myprog1.jl somearg anotherarg
too many arguments
usage: myprog1.jl [--opt1 OPT1] [-o OPT2] [--flag1] [-h] arg1

$ julia myprog1.jl --opt2 1.5 somearg
invalid argument: 1.5 (conversion to type Int64 failed; you may need to overload ArgParse.parse_item;
                  the error was: ArgumentError("invalid base 10 digit '.' in \"1.5\""))
usage: myprog1.jl [--opt1 OPT1] [-o OPT2] [--flag1] arg1

When everything goes fine instead, our program will print the resulting Dict:

$ julia myprog1.jl somearg
Parsed args:
  arg1  =>  somearg
  opt2  =>  0
  opt1  =>  nothing
  flag1  =>  false

$ julia myprog1.jl --opt1 "2+2" --opt2 "4" somearg --flag
Parsed args:
  arg1  =>  somearg
  opt2  =>  4
  opt1  =>  2+2
  flag1  =>  true

From these examples, a number of things can be noticed:

More examples can be found in the examples directory, and the complete documentation in the manual pages.

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