tree: 24b8501b7b2e86cf34fb2847725631b756ac1c94 [path history] [tgz]
  2. cmdline.h
  3. cmdline_parse_result.h
  4. cmdline_parser.h
  6. cmdline_result.h
  7. cmdline_type_parser.h
  8. cmdline_types.h
  9. detail/
  10. memory_representation.h
  11. token_range.h
  12. unit.h



This directory contains the classes that do common command line tool initialization and parsing. The long term goal is eventually for all art command-line tools to be using these helpers.

Cmdline Parser

The CmdlineParser class provides a fluent interface using a domain-specific language to quickly generate a type-safe value parser that process a user-provided list of strings (argv). Currently, it can parse a string into a VariantMap, although in the future it might be desirable to parse into any struct of any field.

To use, create a CmdlineParser::Builder and then chain the Define methods together with WithType and IntoXX methods.

Quick Start

For example, to save the values into a user-defined variant map:

struct FruitVariantMap : VariantMap {
  static const Key<int> Apple;
  static const Key<double> Orange;
  static const Key<bool> Help;
// Note that some template boilerplate has been avoided for clarity.
// See for how to completely define a custom map.

using FruitParser = CmdlineParser<FruitVariantMap, FruitVariantMap::Key>;

FruitParser MakeParser() {
  auto&& builder = FruitParser::Builder();
      .WithRange(0.0, 1.0)

  return builder.Build();

int main(char** argv, int argc) {
  auto parser = MakeParser();
  auto result = parser.parse(argv, argc));
  if (result.isError()) {
     std::cerr << result.getMessage() << std::endl;
     return EXIT_FAILURE;
  auto map = parser.GetArgumentsMap();
  std::cout << "Help? " << map.GetOrDefault(FruitVariantMap::Help) << std::endl;
  std::cout << "Apple? " << map.GetOrDefault(FruitVariantMap::Apple) << std::endl;
  std::cout << "Orange? " << map.GetOrDefault(FruitVariantMap::Orange) << std::endl;

  return EXIT_SUCCESS;

In the above code sample, we define a parser which is capable of parsing something like --help --apple:123 --orange:0.456 . It will error out automatically if invalid flags are given, or if the appropriate flags are given but of the the wrong type/range. So for example, --foo will not parse (invalid argument), neither will --apple:fruit (fruit is not an int) nor --orange:1234 (1234 is out of range of [0.0, 1.0])

Argument Definitions in Detail

Define method

The ‘Define’ method takes one or more aliases for the argument. Common examples might be {"-h", "--help"} where both --help and -h are aliases for the same argument.

The simplest kind of argument just tests for presence, but we often want to parse out a particular type of value (such as an int or double as in the above FruitVariantMap example). To do that, a wildcard must be used to denote the location within the token that the type will be parsed out of.

For example with -orange:_ the parse would know to check all tokens in an argv list for the -orange: prefix and then strip it, leaving only the remains to be parsed.

WithType method (optional)

After an argument definition is provided, the parser builder needs to know what type the argument will be in order to provide the type safety and make sure the rest of the argument definition is correct as early as possible (in essence, everything but the parsing of the argument name is done at compile time).

Everything that follows a WithType<T>() call is thus type checked to only take T values.

If this call is omitted, the parser generator assumes you are building a Unit type (i.e. an argument that only cares about presence).

WithRange method (optional)

Some values will not make sense outside of a [min, max] range, so this is an option to quickly add a range check without writing custom code. The range check is performed after the main parsing happens and happens for any type implementing the <= operators.

WithValueMap (optional)

When parsing an enumeration, it might be very convenient to map a list of possible argument string values into its runtime value.

With something like

      .WithValueMap({"world", kWorld},
                    {"galaxy", kGalaxy})

It will parse either -hello:world or -hello:galaxy only (and error out on other variations of -hello:whatever), converting it to the type-safe value of kWorld or kGalaxy respectively.

This is meant to be another shorthand (like WithRange) to avoid writing a custom type parser. In general it takes a variadic number of pair<const char* /*arg name*/, T /*value*/>.

WithValues (optional)

When an argument definition has multiple aliases with no wildcards, it might be convenient to quickly map them into discrete values.

For example:

  .Define({"-xinterpret", "-xnointerpret"})
    .WithValues({true, false}

It will parse -xinterpret as true and -xnointerpret as false.

In general, it uses the position of the argument alias to map into the WithValues position value.

(Note that this method will not work when the argument definitions have a wildcard because there is no way to position-ally match that).

AppendValues (optional)

By default, the argument is assumed to appear exactly once, and if the user specifies it more than once, only the latest value is taken into account (and all previous occurrences of the argument are ignored).

In some situations, we may want to accumulate the argument values instead of discarding the previous ones.

For example


Will parse something like -Dhello -Dworld -Dbar -Dbaz into std::vector<std::string>{"hello", "world", "bar", "baz"}.

Setting an argument parse target (required)

To complete an argument definition, the parser generator also needs to know where to save values. Currently, only IntoKey is supported, but that may change in the future.

IntoKey (required)

This specifies that when a value is parsed, it will get saved into a variant map using the specific key.

For example,


will save occurrences of the -help argument by doing a Map.Set(Map::Help, ParsedValue("-help")) where ParsedValue is an imaginary function that parses the -help argment into a specific type set by WithType.

Ignoring unknown arguments

This is highly discouraged, but for compatibility with JNI which allows argument ignores, there is an option to ignore any argument tokens that are not known to the parser. This is done with the Ignore function which takes a list of argument definition names.

It‘s semantically equivalent to making a series of argument definitions that map to Unit but don’t get saved anywhere. Values will still get parsed as normal, so it will not ignore known arguments with invalid values, only user-arguments for which it could not find a matching argument definition.

Parsing custom types

Any type can be parsed from a string by specializing the CmdlineType class and implementing the static interface provided by CmdlineTypeParser. It is recommended to inherit from CmdlineTypeParser since it already provides default implementations for every method.

The Parse method should be implemented for most types. Some types will allow appending (such as an std::vector<std::string> and are meant to be used with AppendValues in which case the ParseAndAppend function should be implemented.

For example:

template <>
struct CmdlineType<double> : CmdlineTypeParser<double> {
  Result Parse(const std::string& str) {
    char* end = nullptr;
    errno = 0;
    double value = strtod(str.c_str(), &end);

    if (*end != '\0') {
      return Result::Failure("Failed to parse double from " + str);
    if (errno == ERANGE) {
      return Result::OutOfRange(
          "Failed to parse double from " + str + "; overflow/underflow occurred");

    return Result::Success(value);

  static const char* Name() { return "double"; }
  // note: Name() is just here for more user-friendly errors,
  // but in the future we will use non-standard ways of getting the type name
  // at compile-time and this will no longer be required

Will parse any non-append argument definitions with a type of double.

For an appending example:

template <>
struct CmdlineType<std::vector<std::string>> : CmdlineTypeParser<std::vector<std::string>> {
  Result ParseAndAppend(const std::string& args,
                        std::vector<std::string>& existing_value) {
    return Result::SuccessNoValue();
  static const char* Name() { return "std::vector<std::string>"; }

Will parse multiple instances of the same argument repeatedly into the existing_value (which will be default-constructed to T{} for the first occurrence of the argument).

What is a Result?

Result is a typedef for CmdlineParseResult<T> and it acts similar to a poor version of Either<Left, Right> in Haskell. In particular, it would be similar to Either< int ErrorCode, Maybe<T> >.

There are helpers like Result::Success(value), Result::Failure(string message) and so on to quickly construct these without caring about the type.

When successfully parsing a single value, Result::Success(value) should be used, and when successfully parsing an appended value, use Result::SuccessNoValue() and write back the new value into existing_value as an out-parameter.

When many arguments are parsed, the result is collapsed down to a CmdlineResult which acts as a Either<int ErrorCode, Unit> where the right side simply indicates success. When values are successfully stored, the parser will automatically save it into the target destination as a side effect.