Ruby command line argument parser
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clint(7) -- Ruby command line argument parser


require 'clint'
c =
c.usage do
  $stderr.puts "Usage: #{File.basename(__FILE__)} [-h|--help]"
end do
  $stderr.puts "  -h, --help\tshow this help message"
c.options :help => false, :h => :help
c.parse ARGV
if c.options[:help]
  exit 1
c.dispatch Callable
c.subcommand Klass


Clint is an alternative Ruby command line argument parser that's very good for programs using the subcommand pattern familiar from git(1), svn(1), apt-get(8), and many others. In addition, it separates option declarations from usage and help messages becuase the author feels like that's a better idea.

Clint options are declared by passing hash arguments to Clint#options. The hash keys should be Symbols. If the value is also a Symbol, an alias is defined from the key to the value. If the value is a Class, Clint attempts to find a default value for that class. Otherwise, the value is treated as the default and the value's class will be used to construct type-accurate values from command line arguments.

Clint#options may be called repeatedly to declare extra options and aliases. Clint#reset can be used at any time to clear all declared options and aliases.

Clint#parse may likewise be called repeatedly. At the end of each invocation, it stores the remaining non-option arguments, meaning that arguments (for example, ARGV) must only be passed as a parameter to the first invocation.

Clint#dispatch may be called after Clint#parse with a callable that will receive the arguments and options. If there is a mismatch in the arity of the callable's #call method, the callable's constructor is called with no arguments and the resulting object is treated as the callable that receives the arguments and options.

Clint#subcommand may be called after Clint#parse to automatically handle the subcommand pattern as follows. The first non-option argument is taken to be the subcommand, which must exist as a singleton or instance method of the class object passed to Clint#subcommand. If a suitable class method is found, it is called with all remaining arguments, including a hash of the parsed options if we can get away with it. Otherwise, an instance is constructed with the next non-option argument and the instance method is called with all remaining arguments, again including a hash of the parsed options if we can get away with it.

Due to limitations in the Ruby 1.8 grammar, all methods that could act as subcommands must not declare default argument values except options={} if desired.


Leo Arnaud and John Williams - "Bugler's Dream"


Richard Crowley


The standard Ruby OptionParser class