A command-line argument parsing module for Lua.
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README.md

lua_cliargs

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cliargs is a command-line argument parser for Lua. It supports several types of arguments:

  1. required arguments
  2. optional arguments with different notations: -short-key VALUE and/or --expanded-key=VALUE
  3. optional arguments with multiple-values that get appended to a list
  4. optional "flag" arguments (on/off options) with notations: -short-key and/or --expanded-key
  5. a single optional "splat" argument which can be repeated (must be the last argument)

Optional arguments can have default values (strings), flags always default to 'true'.

Usage Examples

See the examples under the examples/ directory.

API

See http://lua-cliargs.netlify.com/ for the API docs.

Help listings --help

A help listing will be automatically generated and accessed using the --help argument. When such an option is encountered, cli:parse() will abort and return nil, string with the help message; you are free to print it to the screen using print() if you want.

You can also force its display in the code using cli:print_help().

This is the result for our example (see examples/00_general.lua):

Usage: cli_example.lua [OPTIONS]  INPUT  [OUTPUT-1 [OUTPUT-2 [...]]]

ARGUMENTS:
  INPUT                 path to the input file (required)
  OUTPUT                multiple output paths (optional, default:
                        /dev/stdout)

OPTIONS:
  -c, --compress=FILTER the filter to use for compressing output: gzip,
                        lzma, bzip2, or none (default: gzip)
  -o FILE               path to output file (default: /dev/stdout)
  -d                    script will run in DEBUG mode
  -v, --version         prints the program's version and exits
  --verbose             the script output will be very verbose

Validations

Runtime argument validation

From a parsing point of view, there are 3 cases that need to be handled which are outlined below. If I missed something, please open a ticket!

Missing a required argument

$ lua examples/00_general.lua
cli_example.lua: error: bad number of arguments; 1-4 argument(s) must be specified, not 0; re-run with --help for usage.

Missing value for an optional argument

$ lua examples/00_general.lua --compress inputfile
cli_example.lua: error: option --compress requires a value to be set; re-run with --help for usage.

Unknown arguments

$ lua examples/00_general.lua -f inputfile
cli_example.lua: error: unknown/bad flag; -f; re-run with --help for usage.

Some sanity guards

In the following cases, cliargs will report an error to you and terminate the running script:

  1. flag options can not accept a value. For example: cli:add_flag('-v VERSION') will return an error
  2. duplicate keys are not allowed: defining two options with the key --input will be rejected

Tests

Running test specs is done using busted. You can install it using LuaRocks, and then just call it with the spec folder:

luarocks install busted
cd /path/to/lua_cliargs/
busted spec

Contributions

If you come across a bug and you'd like to patch it, please fork the repository, commit your patch, and request a pull.

Thanks to

Many thanks to everyone who reported bugs, provided fixes, and added entirely new features:

  1. Thijs Schreijer
  2. Jack Lawson
  3. Robert Andrew Ditthardt
  4. Oscar Lim

If I missed you, don't hesitate to update this file or just email me.

Changelog

Changes from 2.5.x 3.0

This major version release contains BREAKING API CHANGES. See the UPGRADE guide for help in updating your code to make use of it.

More flexible parsing

  • options can occur anywhere now even after arguments (unless the -- indicator is specified, then no options are parsed afterwards.) Previously, options were accepted only before arguments.
  • options using the short-key notation can be specified using = as a value delimiter as well as a space (e.g. -c=lzma and -c lzma)
  • the library is now more flexible with option definitions (notations like -key VALUE, --key=VALUE, -k=VALUE are all treated equally)
  • --help or -h will now cause the help listing to be displayed no matter where they are. Previously, this only happened if they were supplied as the first option.

Basic command support

You may now define commands with custom handlers. A command may be invoked by supplying its name as the first argument (options can still come before or afterwards). lua_cliargs will forward the rest of the options to that command to handle, which can be in a separate file.

See examples/04_commands--git.lua for an example.

Re-defining defaults

It is now possible to pass a table containing default values (and override any existing defaults).

The function for doing this is called cli:load_defaults()..

This makes it possible to load run-time defaults from a configuration file, for example.

Reading configuration files

cliargs now exposes some convenience helpers for loading configuration from files (and a separate hook, cli:load_defaults() to inject this config if you want) found in cli:read_defaults(). This method takes a file-path and an optional file format and it will parse it for you, provided you have the necessary libraries installed.

See the API docs for using this hook.

Other changes

  • internal code changes and more comprehensive test-coverage

Changes from 2.5.1 to 2.5.2

  • No longer tracking the (legacy) tarballs in git or the luarocks package. Instead, we use the GitHub release tarballs for each version.

Changes in 2.4.0 from 2.3-4

  1. All arguments now accept a callback that will be invoked when parsing of those arguments was successful
  2. (POSSIBLY BREAKING) Default value for flags is now nil instead of false. This will only affect existing behavior if you were explicitly testing unset flags to equal false (i.e. if flag == false then) as opposed to if flag then (or if not flag then).
  3. Minor bugfixes

Changes in 2.3.0

  1. the parser will now understand -- to denote the end of optional arguments and will map whatever comes after it to required/splat args
  2. -short VALUE is now properly supported, so is -short=VALUE
  3. short-key options can now officially be composed of more than 1 character
  4. the parser now accepts callbacks that will be invoked as soon as options are parsed so that you can bail out of parsing preemptively (like for --version or --help options)
  5. options can now accept multiple values via multiple invocations if a table was provided as a default value (passed-in values will be appended to that list)

Changes in 2.2-0 from 2.1-2

  1. the = that separates keys from values in the --expanded-key notation is no longer mandatory; using either a space or a = will map the value to the key (e.g., --compress lzma is equal to --compress=lzma)

Changes in 2.0.0 from 1.x.x

  1. added the 'splat' argument, an optional repetitive argument for which a maximum number of occurrences can be set
  2. removed the reference, arguments are now solely returned by their key/expanded-key (BREAKING!)
  3. removed object overhead and the new() method as the library will only be used once on program start-up (BREAKING!)
  4. after parsing completed successfully, the library will effectively delete itself to free resources (BREAKING!)
  5. option/flag is now allowed with only an expanded-key defined
  6. Debug aid implemented; adding a first option --__DUMP__, will dump the results of parsing the command line. Especially for testing how to use the commandline with arguments containing spaces either quoted or not.
  7. the print_usage() and print_help() now have a 'noprint' parameter that will not print the message, but return it as an error string (nil + errmsg)

License

The code is released under the MIT terms. Feel free to use it in both open and closed software as you please.

Copyright (c) 2011-2015 Ahmad Amireh

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.