|By Panos Kougiouris||
|April 1, 1999 12:00 AM EST||
Command line tools are usually invoked from a shell (e.g., DOS prompt, sh, ksh, etc.) and perform a certain task. The task can be customized based on the command line arguments. For instance:
attempts to open a telnet connection to host foo.bar.com. It uses the default telnet port. The next example:
telnet -p 3434 foo.bar.com
attempts a similar connection using port 3434.
Command line tools can be as simple or as complicated as the developer desires. An example of a simple command line tool is the echo command found in most shells. On the other hand, the Java compiler and the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) are complex command line tools.
Java presents the command line arguments in an array of strings. This is already a huge improvement over C and C++, in which the arguments are presented as an array of C strings, i.e., an array of pointers to arrays of characters. Yet it comes short of the developer's desire to get the arguments parsed and ready to use.
Since I published my 1997 C++ command line parsing framework (see Reference), many readers have e-mailed me with requests and suggestions. The top two requests have been for a Java implementation and an improvement to handle arrays of arguments. In this article I present a total rewrite of the framework with improvements for Java programmers.
Using the Framework
Before moving to the implementation I'll demonstrate how to use the framework to write a command line utility. Let's say you want to write a utility called "mycat" - like the UNIX cat - which takes a number of files and concatenates them together into a larger file. A -v option turns verbose output on and off. A -l option allows the insertion of extra empty lines between the files. The command would look like:
In your Main class you need to add a Token object for each argument. In this example we have three Tokens: the number of lines, the verbosity mode and the input files. In addition, you need to add an ApplicationSettings object. This object is used to contain all the arguments.
The source code for these settings is shown in Listing 1. I first declare the sm_main variable and then the three Token variables: sm_verbose, sm_files, sm_lines. The arguments in the constructor of each token object fully describe the expected usage of the Token:
1. Is there an environment variable to provide the value?
2. Is there a default value?
A static initializer adds the Token variables to the ApplicationSettings variable. By the time the main() function of your application is reached, the ApplicationSettings object knows everything about the syntax of your command line utility.
Listing 2 shows the main program of my example. The first line after the try statement calls the parseArgs() method of the ApplicationSettings object. The actual command line arguments are passed as an argument to the object. When the syntax is incorrect, a usage message is printed and an exception is thrown. Otherwise, the Token objects are set to contain appropriate values. For instance, when the -v option is present, the sm_verbose object will be set. Later, when its getValue() method is called, it will return true.
In a similar fashion, if two files are passed as arguments, let's say foo.cc and bar.cc, the sm_files Token will be set appropriately. Its getValue(0) method will return foo.cc, its getValue(1) method will return bar.cc.
Now compile the example with your favorite development environment and run the resulting code without passing any arguments. You should get the usage message in Listing 3. But wait a minute: you never wrote code to print usage messages; what's going on here? It's very simple. The framework uses the same code that defines the expected Tokens to generate usage statements. Kiss the ugly, always-out-of-date, static String statements that describe the usage of the utility goodbye.
Now let's run the program again with some decent arguments. Let's say we run it with arguments "-v foo.cc bar.cc". The program prints the arguments correctly. Though we didn't pass any value for the -l switch, the Token returns 0. This is the expected behavior because the default value of the sm_lines Token is indeed 0.
Why Use the Framework?
By now some of the advantages of the framework should be obvious to you. The error-prone while and switch statements that usually parse the arguments have been replaced by a few very readable statements.
1. Missing arguments
2. Unexpected arguments
3. Wrong types of arguments
The stated advantages speed up the original development of any command line utility. They allow the developer to jump to the real code as soon as possible. At the same time, they provide immediate access to the command line settings and usage messages.
Where the framework really shines is in the area where most of a developer's time is spent: software maintenance. If a command line utility is successful, users will ask for changes and improvements. Many of them will translate to more command line options or change the syntax of existing ones. The framework makes adding and modifying options trivial and safe. Compile-time messages will save the developer from runtime embarrassment.
Finally, the framework is extensible. One can define new types of switches that accommodate new data types or anything else a developer desires.
At this point you can go ahead, download the code and start using it in your own applications. The next few sections discuss the design of the framework.
The StringArrayIterator Class
The StringArrayIterator class is a utility class (see Listing 4). It encapsulates an array of strings and a position inside the array. The get() method returns the String at the current position. The moveNext() operation on the array allows the programmer to advance the current position to the next string. The EOF() operation determines when the end of the array has been reached.
The ApplicationSettings object contains a StringArrayIterator object. It gets initialized from the command line arguments.
The Token Class
The Token class, shown in Listing 5, is an abstract class. Each Token object contains a description of an argument or a switch. After a successful parsing it also contains the value or values that were provided for the argument in the command line.
During the parsing phase, the most important methods of the Token class are the parseSwitch() and parseArgument() methods. Both of them take the StringArrayIterator object with the command line arguments as input. If the current command line argument is recognized, three things occur: it's parsed, the pointer of the StringArrayIterator object is moved and a value of true is returned. If it's not recognized, a value of false is returned.
The values that correspond to this switch or argument are stored in a Vector of objects. Subclasses determine their class. For instance, the StringToken subclass will have String objects, and the IntegerToken subclass will contain Integer objects.
While the program is running, the values are accessible using the getValue(int) and getValue() operations.
A Token subclass encapsulates arguments of a specific type. For example, there's a StringToken, an IntegerToken, etc. Since most of its methods have a generic implementation, each Token subclass has very few methods to implement.
Listing 6 presents the implementation for the class StringToken. A few more subclasses are provided in the downloaded code. You can extend the framework by implementing more subclasses.
The ApplicationSettings Object
The ApplicationSettings object puts everything I've discussed so far together (see Listing 7). It contains all the Token objects and initiates the parsing algorithm. The user triggers the parsing by calling the parseArgs() method.
The command line arguments are assigned to the StringArrayIterator member of the class. Then, for every command line argument, each Token object is called and asked to parse it as either an option or an argument.
If no Token object can parse the argument, a usage message is printed by iterating through the Tokens and calling their printUsage() and printUsageExtended() methods. Both methods take an OutputStream as an argument. They print their output to this stream.
Pure Java and Impurities
Almost all the code is pure Java. Since pure Java doesn't provide support for environment variables and assertions, I had to use the functions provided in my environment, the Win32 Virtual Machine.
These few lines of code are carefully isolated in the util.java file shown in Listing 8. In a pure Java environment you can comment out three lines of code from this file. You don't get assertions and support for initialization of arguments from environment variables. Otherwise, everything else works as advertised.
The framework doesn't provide support for complex scenarios. For instance, there's no support for switches that depend on each other. You can't dictate that the -t option can appear if and only if the -p option appears. You'd have to implement such checks yourself after the arguments were parsed.
In this article I presented an extensible Java framework. The framework simplifies the development and maintenance of code that parses the arguments of command line utilities and tools.
The framework doesn't provide support for complex scenarios. Still, my experience is that the framework covers most common cases. I expect that it will be as useful for Java development as it has been for C++.
P. Kougiouris (1997). "Yet Another Command-Line Parser." C/C++ Users Journal, Vol. 15, No. 4, April.
|AST 12/04/04 10:52:06 AM EST|
Hi. Just wanted to point out another package for solving this problem. It supports popt-style autohelp as well as POSIX options, joined options (-Wall -Dfoo=bar), repeated options and of course GNU-style (--some-long-option) options.
Where the library really differs is that it leverages the GoF Command Pattern to make the options "active" in a similar manner to the Swing Action objects. Another feature is the ability to specify which sets of options must be present or cannot be present without requiring coding this logic yourself. The parser does the work for you.
An article discussing how this can be done at http://te-code.sourceforge.net/article-20041121-cli.html .
Ok, and yes, I'm a bit biased because I wrote the library... ;)
Hope this helps,
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,157
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,802
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,435
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,568
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,657
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 743
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Mar. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,439
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
Mar. 29, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,093
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Mar. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,086
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
Mar. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,407
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Mar. 29, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,390
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
Mar. 29, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,048
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,456
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 28, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,793
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Mar. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,187
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,828
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,461
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,419
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,537
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
Mar. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,632