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ArgList provides a way to easily create an instance of a Java class based in the input arguments given as a String array (e.g., the String[] args parameters of a main(...) method).

This is helpful when attempting to parse a large number of arguments in a Java main method. Also, it is commonly expected to output a list of expected parameters in case an insufficient number is supplied of there are any problems while parsing the arguments given to the HJava program.

ArgList provides easy means to do exactly that. An ArgList object is defined as a list of any arguments of arbitrary type with names and descriptions. Given a list of actual arguments, ArgList parses the given Strings and creates an object instance of the desired Java class. For that, the respective class must provide a constructor matching the order and types of the arguments specified in the ArgList instance.

In case any problems occurr during parsing or instantiation, the respective exceptions are thrown and a list of al arguments is printed. For each argument, the given arguments from the String array input are also printed making the identification of possible mistakes while calling simple.

Atomic argument types

Atomic arguments represent the most basic single arguments. They must extend the (abstract) class argList.types.Arg. For their definition (or instantiation), each atomic argument type takes the following parameters:

  • name - the name of the argument
  • description - a description of the argument

The main functionality of an atomic argument is to parse an object of a specific type T from a given String argument. This functionality is implemented in the (public) method T parseValue(String s){...}. In the following list, the respective object type T is given in parentheses.

ClassArg (java.lang.Class)

Argument for holding a Class object. It is parsed from the given String argument using the (static) Class.forName(s) method.

DoubleArg (java.lang.Double)

Argument for holding a Double object. It is parsed form the given String argument using the (static) Double.parseDouble(s) method.

IntArg (java.lang.Integer)

Argument for holding a Integer object. It is parsed form the given String argument using the (static) Integer.parseInt(s) method.

LongArg (java.lang.Long)

Argument for holding a Long object. It is parsed form the given String argument using the (static) Long.parseLong(s) method.

StringArg (java.lang.String)

Argument for holding a String object. Here, no parsing is performed and the String object given as argument is simply returned.

EnumArg (java.lang.String)

Argument for holding the String representation of an enum type. The given String object is simply returned (as for StringArg).

In contrast to StringArg, EnumArg takes an Object[] array as additional parameters for instantiation, e.g., taken from enumType.values[]. Since the enum type cannot be cast directly, the String is returned. The list of enum types is only used for outputting the list of all possible values of this argument.

  • values - list of enum type values (Object[])

Array argument types

Array arguments represent a list of atomic arguments. In addition to name and description, these arguments take a String separator as input. When parsing the list of arguments, the input String is split at the separator and each element is then parsed depending on the respective atomic argument type.

  • separator - String used for separating multiple arguments and creating a list of them

DoubleArrayArg (java.lang.Double[])

Array of DoubleArg arguments.

EnumArrayArg (java.lang.String[])

Array of EnumArg arguments.

IntArrayArg (java.lang.Integer[])

Array of IntArg arguments.

LongArrayArg (java.lang.Long[])

Array of LongArg arguments.

StringArrayArg (java.lang.String[])

Array of StringArg arguments.

CombinedArg (java.lang.Object[])

This argument combined multiple atomic arguments. As input, it takes as list of the atomic arguments (Arg[]) as well as a String separator for splitting the input String during parsing. Since the given atomic arguments can be of any type, the return value of the parsing method is Object[].

CombinedArrayArg (java.lang.Object[][])

Array of CombinedArg arguments. Note that the separator of CombinedArrayArg and CombinedArg should be different!

Source Code

All required java sources are located in the src/ dir of the repo. It contains the following packages and important classes:


This is the main class which holds the definition of an argument list and provides mathods to generate an instance of the desired class from a set of given arguments.


Here, we present a set of examples that showcase how ArgList can be used.


This package contains the basic classes Arg and ArgArray and their children which represent specific argument types.

Build file

With build/build.xml, we provide a simple ant build file for creating ArgList.jar. It contains all sources and binary files of ArgList.


Here, we only provide basic examples of how to use ArgList. More complex examples are provided in src/argList/examples/.