Usage

The central concept in Cri is the command, which has option definitions as well as code for actually executing itself. In Cri, the commandline tool itself is a command as well.

Here’s a sample command definition:

command = Cri::Command.define do
  name        'dostuff'
  usage       'dostuff [options]'
  aliases     :ds, :stuff
  summary     'does stuff'
  description 'This command does a lot of stuff. I really mean a lot.'

  flag   :h,  :help,  'show help for this command' do |value, cmd|
    puts cmd.help
    exit 0
  end
  flag   nil, :more,  'do even more stuff'
  option :s,  :stuff, 'specify stuff to do', argument: :required

  run do |opts, args, cmd|
    stuff = opts.fetch(:stuff, 'generic stuff')
    puts "Doing #{stuff}!"

    if opts[:more]
      puts 'Doing it even more!'
    end
  end
end

To run this command, invoke the #run method with the raw arguments. For example, for a root command (the commandline tool itself), the command could be called like this:

command.run(ARGV)

Each command has automatically generated help. This help can be printed using Cri::Command#help; something like this will be shown:

usage: dostuff [options]

does stuff

    This command does a lot of stuff. I really mean a lot.

options:

    -h --help      show help for this command
       --more      do even more stuff
    -s --stuff     specify stuff to do

General command metadata

Let’s disect the command definition and start with the first five lines:

name        'dostuff'
usage       'dostuff [options]'
aliases     :ds, :stuff
summary     'does stuff'
description 'This command does a lot of stuff. I really mean a lot.'

These lines of the command definition specify the name of the command (or the commandline tool, if the command is the root command), the usage, a list of aliases that can be used to call this command, a one-line summary and a (long) description. The usage should not include a “usage:” prefix nor the name of the supercommand, because the latter will be automatically prepended.

Aliases don’t make sense for root commands, but for subcommands they do.

Command-line options

The next few lines contain the command’s option definitions:

flag   :h,  :help,  'show help for this command' do |value, cmd|
  puts cmd.help
  exit 0
end
flag   nil, :more,  'do even more stuff'
option :s,  :stuff, 'specify stuff to do', argument: :required

Options can be defined using the following methods:

  • Cri::CommandDSL#option or Cri::CommandDSL#opt

  • Cri::CommandDSL#flag (implies no arguments passed to option)

  • Cri::CommandDSL#required (implies required argument)

  • Cri::CommandDSL#optional (implies optional argument)

All these methods take the short option form as their first argument, and a long option form as their second argument. Either the short or the long form can be nil, but not both (because that would not make any sense). In the example above, the --more option has no short form.

Each of the above methods also take a block, which will be executed when the option is found. The argument to the block are the option value (true in case the option does not have an argument) and the command.

Multivalued options

Each of these four methods take a :multiple option. When set to true, multiple option valus are accepted, and the option values will be stored in an array.

For example, to parse the command line options string -o foo.txt -o bar.txt into an array, so that options[:output] contains [ 'foo.txt', 'bar.txt' ], you can use an option definition like this:

option :o, :output, 'specify output paths', argument: :required, multiple: true

This can also be used for flags (options without arguments). In this case, the length of the options array is relevant.

For example, you can allow setting the verbosity level using -v -v -v. The value of options[:verbose].size would then be the verbosity level (three in this example). The option definition would then look like this:

flag :v, :verbose, 'be verbose (use up to three times)', multiple: true

The run block

The last part of the command defines the execution itself:

run do |opts, args, cmd|
  stuff = opts.fetch(:stuff, 'generic stuff')
  puts "Doing #{stuff}!"

  if opts[:more]
    puts 'Doing it even more!'
  end
end

The Cri::CommandDSL#run method takes a block with the actual code to execute. This block takes three arguments: the options, any arguments passed to the command, and the command itself.

Instead of defining a run block, it is possible to declare a class, the command runner class (Cri::CommandRunner) that will perform the actual execution of the command. This makes it easier to break up large run blocks into manageable pieces.

Subcommands

Commands can have subcommands. For example, the git commandline tool would be represented by a command that has subcommands named commit, add, and so on. Commands with subcommands do not use a run block; execution will always be dispatched to a subcommand (or none, if no subcommand is found).

To add a command as a subcommand to another command, use the Cri::Command#add_command method, like this:

root_cmd.add_command(cmd_add)
root_cmd.add_command(cmd_commit)
root.cmd.add_command(cmd_init)

Contributors

  • Toon Willems

  • Ken Coar

Thanks for Lee “injekt” Jarvis for Slop, which has inspired the design of Cri 2.0.