Odin is a .NET library that provides a conventions based command-line parser. It's goal is to use the CLI equivalent of ASP .NET MVC's routing behavior to map command line arguments to methods and parameters. It differs from similar libraries in that it is designed to allow for an arbitrary n-depth command-tree.
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.



Build status Gitter

In the .NET space there are a number of good libraries to handle run-of-the-mill command line argument parsing. My current favorite is a nuget package called simply CommandLineParser. So why write a new one?

Try it out!

Install-Package Odin-Commands

Inspired By Thor

I've done some work with Ruby over the last couple of years and I was really impressed with the feature set offered by a ruby project called thor In addition to a declarative approach to binding options to actions and arguments, thor supports the concept of subcommands. We've seen subcommands used to great effect in command-line programs such as git and nuget, but current command line parser packages offer little help with this feature.

Inspired by Convention Over Configuration

In ASP .NET MVC, urls are routed to the appropriate controller and action by convention. http://mysite.domain/Home/Index is understood to route to a controller called "Home" and invoke a method called "Index." In addition, little manual wiring is required because ASP .NET MVC can discover and instantiate the controller easily at runtime. I wondered if it would be possible to use a combination of reflection and convention to create a command-line application in C#.

Show Me The Code

Setup Code

    public class BooksCommand : Command
        public BooksCommand()
            base.RegisterSubCommand(new SearchCommand());

        [Description("The title of the book being added.")]
        public string Title { get; set; }

        [Description("The author of the book being added.")]
        public string Author { get; set; }

        [Description("Adds a book to the index.")]
        public void Add(
            [Description("The date the book was released.")]
            DateTime releaseDate)
            Logger.Info("Adding '{0}' by '{1}' - released on '{2:MM/dd/yyyy}' to the index.\n", Title, Author, releaseDate);

        [Description("Removes a book from the index.")]
        public void Delete()
            Logger.Info("Remvoing '{0}' by '{1}' from the index.\n", Title, Author);

    [Description("Provides search capabilities for books.")]
    public class SearchCommand : Command
        [Description("The order to sort the results of the search.")]
        public SortBooksBy SortBy { get; set; }

        [Description("Searches books by author.")]
        public void Author(
            [Description("The author of the book being searched for.")]
            string author)
            Logger.Info("Find books by author '{0}'; sort results by '{1}'.\n", author, SortBy);

        [Action(IsDefault = true)]
        [Description("Searches books by title.")]
        public void Title(
            [Description("The title of the book being searched for.")]
            string title)
            Logger.Info("Find books by title '{0}'; sort results by '{1}'.\n", title, SortBy);

        [Description("Searches books by release date.")]
        public void ReleaseDate(
            [Description("The release date from which to search.")]
            DateTime? from = null, 
            [Description("The release date to which to search.")]
            DateTime? to = null)
            Logger.Info("Find books by release date: '{0}' - '{1}'; sort results by '{2}'.\n", from, to, SortBy);

    public enum SortBooksBy

The Program

    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            var root = new BooksCommand();
            var result = root.Execute(args);

What Do I Get For My Trouble?

You get a command line executable that can be invoked like so:

exe add --author "Ayn Rand" --title "Atlas Shrugged" --release-date  1957/10/10   # explicit invocation
exe add -a "Ayn Rand" -t "Atlas Shrugged" -r 1957/10/10                           # argument alias

exe search title --title "Atlas Shrugged" --sort-by author                        # explicit subcommand invocation
exe search --title "Atlas Shrugged" --sort-by author                              # subcommand + default action
exe search -t "Atlas Shrugged"  --sort-by author                                  # subcommand + default action + argument alias
exe search "Atlas Shrugged"                                                       # subcommand + default action + implicit argument by order
exe search author --author "Ayn Rand" --sort-by author                            # subcommand + non-default action + explicit argument

And help output that looks like:

add                     Adds a book to the index.

    --release-date      aliases: -r
                        The date the book was released.

delete                  Removes a book from the index.


    --action-name       default value:
                        The name of the action to provide help for.

    --title             default value:
                        aliases: -t
                        The title of the book being added.

    --author            default value:
                        aliases: -a
                        The author of the book being added.

To get help for actions
        help <action>

search                  Provides search capabilities for books.
To get help for subcommands
        help <subcommand>