NOT YET: Python's excellent ArgumentParser in C++
C++ Python Shell Makefile
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Latest commit 01ac038 Dec 28, 2015 @weisslj Merge pull request #4 from dm0/choices-help-string
Add %choices replacement for choices option type
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.gitignore Add test Makefile target Dec 19, 2015
LICENSE Clarify license (MIT) Dec 14, 2015
OptionParser.cpp Merge with master to solve merge conflicts Dec 21, 2015
OptionParser.h Update documentation / remove redundancy Dec 20, 2015


This is yet another option parser for C++. It is modelled after the excellent Python optparse API. Although incomplete, anyone familiar to optparse should feel at home.

  • Copyright (c) 2010 Johannes Weißl
  • License: MIT License

Design decisions

  • Elegant and easy usage more important than speed / flexibility
  • Small size more important than feature completeness, e.g.:
    • No unicode
    • No checking for user programming errors
    • No conflict handlers
    • No adding of new actions


  • Why not use getopt/getopt_long?
    • Not C++ / not completely POSIX
    • Too cumbersome to use, would need lot of additional code
  • Why not use Boost.Program_options?
    • Boost not installed on all target platforms (esp. cluster, HPC, ...)
    • Too big to include just for option handling for many projects: 322 *.h (44750 lines) + 7 *.cpp (2078 lines)
  • Why not use tclap/Opag/Options/CmdLine/Anyoption/Argument_helper/...?
    • Similarity to Python desired for faster learning curve

Future work

  • Support nargs > 1?


using optparse::OptionParser;

OptionParser parser = OptionParser() .description("just an example");

parser.add_option("-f", "--file") .dest("filename")
                  .help("write report to FILE") .metavar("FILE");
parser.add_option("-q", "--quiet")
                  .action("store_false") .dest("verbose") .set_default("1")
                  .help("don't print status messages to stdout");

optparse::Values options = parser.parse_args(argc, argv);
vector<string> args = parser.args();

if (options.get("verbose"))
    cout << options["filename"] << endl;