How do I parse command line arguments in Bash? – Dev

The best answers to the question “How do I parse command line arguments in Bash?” in the category Dev.

QUESTION:

Say, I have a script that gets called with this line:

./myscript -vfd ./foo/bar/someFile -o /fizz/someOtherFile

or this one:

./myscript -v -f -d -o /fizz/someOtherFile ./foo/bar/someFile 

What’s the accepted way of parsing this such that in each case (or some combination of the two) $v, $f, and $d will all be set to true and $outFile will be equal to /fizz/someOtherFile?

ANSWER:

No answer showcases enhanced getopt. And the top-voted answer is misleading: It either ignores -⁠vfd style short options (requested by the OP) or options after positional arguments (also requested by the OP); and it ignores parsing-errors. Instead:

  • Use enhanced getopt from util-linux or formerly GNU glibc.1
  • It works with getopt_long() the C function of GNU glibc.
  • no other solution on this page can do all this:
    • handles spaces, quoting characters and even binary in arguments2 (non-enhanced getopt can’t do this)
    • it can handle options at the end: script.sh -o outFile file1 file2 -v (getopts doesn’t do this)
    • allows =-style long options: script.sh --outfile=fileOut --infile fileIn (allowing both is lengthy if self parsing)
    • allows combined short options, e.g. -vfd (real work if self parsing)
    • allows touching option-arguments, e.g. -oOutfile or -vfdoOutfile
  • Is so old already3 that no GNU system is missing this (e.g. any Linux has it).
  • You can test for its existence with: getopt --test → return value 4.
  • Other getopt or shell-builtin getopts are of limited use.

The following calls

myscript -vfd ./foo/bar/someFile -o /fizz/someOtherFile
myscript -v -f -d -o/fizz/someOtherFile -- ./foo/bar/someFile
myscript --verbose --force --debug ./foo/bar/someFile -o/fizz/someOtherFile
myscript --output=/fizz/someOtherFile ./foo/bar/someFile -vfd
myscript ./foo/bar/someFile -df -v --output /fizz/someOtherFile

all return

verbose: y, force: y, debug: y, in: ./foo/bar/someFile, out: /fizz/someOtherFile

with the following myscript

#!/bin/bash
# More safety, by turning some bugs into errors.
# Without `errexit` you don’t need ! and can replace
# PIPESTATUS with a simple $?, but I don’t do that.
set -o errexit -o pipefail -o noclobber -o nounset

# -allow a command to fail with !’s side effect on errexit
# -use return value from ${PIPESTATUS[0]}, because ! hosed $?
! getopt --test > /dev/null 
if [[ ${PIPESTATUS[0]} -ne 4 ]]; then
    echo 'I’m sorry, `getopt --test` failed in this environment.'
    exit 1
fi

OPTIONS=dfo:v
LONGOPTS=debug,force,output:,verbose

# -regarding ! and PIPESTATUS see above
# -temporarily store output to be able to check for errors
# -activate quoting/enhanced mode (e.g. by writing out “--options”)
# -pass arguments only via   -- "[email protected]"   to separate them correctly
! PARSED=$(getopt --options=$OPTIONS --longoptions=$LONGOPTS --name "$0" -- "[email protected]")
if [[ ${PIPESTATUS[0]} -ne 0 ]]; then
    # e.g. return value is 1
    #  then getopt has complained about wrong arguments to stdout
    exit 2
fi
# read getopt’s output this way to handle the quoting right:
eval set -- "$PARSED"

d=n f=n v=n outFile=-
# now enjoy the options in order and nicely split until we see --
while true; do
    case "$1" in
        -d|--debug)
            d=y
            shift
            ;;
        -f|--force)
            f=y
            shift
            ;;
        -v|--verbose)
            v=y
            shift
            ;;
        -o|--output)
            outFile="$2"
            shift 2
            ;;
        --)
            shift
            break
            ;;
        *)
            echo "Programming error"
            exit 3
            ;;
    esac
done

# handle non-option arguments
if [[ $# -ne 1 ]]; then
    echo "$0: A single input file is required."
    exit 4
fi

echo "verbose: $v, force: $f, debug: $d, in: $1, out: $outFile"

1 enhanced getopt is available on most “bash-systems”, including Cygwin; on OS X try brew install gnu-getopt or sudo port install getopt
2 the POSIX exec() conventions have no reliable way to pass binary NULL in command line arguments; those bytes prematurely end the argument
3 first version released in 1997 or before (I only tracked it back to 1997)

ANSWER:

Bash Space-Separated (e.g., --option argument)

cat >/tmp/demo-space-separated.sh <<'EOF'
#!/bin/bash

POSITIONAL=()
while [[ $# -gt 0 ]]; do
  key="$1"

  case $key in
    -e|--extension)
      EXTENSION="$2"
      shift # past argument
      shift # past value
      ;;
    -s|--searchpath)
      SEARCHPATH="$2"
      shift # past argument
      shift # past value
      ;;
    -l|--lib)
      LIBPATH="$2"
      shift # past argument
      shift # past value
      ;;
    --default)
      DEFAULT=YES
      shift # past argument
      ;;
    *)    # unknown option
      POSITIONAL+=("$1") # save it in an array for later
      shift # past argument
      ;;
  esac
done

set -- "${POSITIONAL[@]}" # restore positional parameters

echo "FILE EXTENSION  = ${EXTENSION}"
echo "SEARCH PATH     = ${SEARCHPATH}"
echo "LIBRARY PATH    = ${LIBPATH}"
echo "DEFAULT         = ${DEFAULT}"
echo "Number files in SEARCH PATH with EXTENSION:" $(ls -1 "${SEARCHPATH}"/*."${EXTENSION}" | wc -l)
if [[ -n $1 ]]; then
    echo "Last line of file specified as non-opt/last argument:"
    tail -1 "$1"
fi
EOF

chmod +x /tmp/demo-space-separated.sh

/tmp/demo-space-separated.sh -e conf -s /etc -l /usr/lib /etc/hosts
Output from copy-pasting the block above
FILE EXTENSION  = conf
SEARCH PATH     = /etc
LIBRARY PATH    = /usr/lib
DEFAULT         =
Number files in SEARCH PATH with EXTENSION: 14
Last line of file specified as non-opt/last argument:
#93.184.216.34    example.com
Usage
demo-space-separated.sh -e conf -s /etc -l /usr/lib /etc/hosts

Bash Equals-Separated (e.g., --option=argument)

cat >/tmp/demo-equals-separated.sh <<'EOF'
#!/bin/bash

for i in "[email protected]"; do
  case $i in
    -e=*|--extension=*)
      EXTENSION="${i#*=}"
      shift # past argument=value
      ;;
    -s=*|--searchpath=*)
      SEARCHPATH="${i#*=}"
      shift # past argument=value
      ;;
    -l=*|--lib=*)
      LIBPATH="${i#*=}"
      shift # past argument=value
      ;;
    --default)
      DEFAULT=YES
      shift # past argument with no value
      ;;
    *)
      # unknown option
      ;;
  esac
done
echo "FILE EXTENSION  = ${EXTENSION}"
echo "SEARCH PATH     = ${SEARCHPATH}"
echo "LIBRARY PATH    = ${LIBPATH}"
echo "DEFAULT         = ${DEFAULT}"
echo "Number files in SEARCH PATH with EXTENSION:" $(ls -1 "${SEARCHPATH}"/*."${EXTENSION}" | wc -l)
if [[ -n $1 ]]; then
    echo "Last line of file specified as non-opt/last argument:"
    tail -1 $1
fi
EOF

chmod +x /tmp/demo-equals-separated.sh

/tmp/demo-equals-separated.sh -e=conf -s=/etc -l=/usr/lib /etc/hosts
Output from copy-pasting the block above
FILE EXTENSION  = conf
SEARCH PATH     = /etc
LIBRARY PATH    = /usr/lib
DEFAULT         =
Number files in SEARCH PATH with EXTENSION: 14
Last line of file specified as non-opt/last argument:
#93.184.216.34    example.com
Usage
demo-equals-separated.sh -e=conf -s=/etc -l=/usr/lib /etc/hosts

To better understand ${i#*=} search for “Substring Removal” in this guide. It is functionally equivalent to `sed 's/[^=]*=//' <<< "$i"` which calls a needless subprocess or `echo "$i" | sed 's/[^=]*=//'` which calls two needless subprocesses.


Using bash with getopt[s]

getopt(1) limitations (older, relatively-recent getopt versions):

  • can’t handle arguments that are empty strings
  • can’t handle arguments with embedded whitespace

More recent getopt versions don’t have these limitations. For more information, see these docs.


POSIX getopts

Additionally, the POSIX shell and others offer getopts which doen’t have these limitations. I’ve included a simplistic getopts example.

cat >/tmp/demo-getopts.sh <<'EOF'
#!/bin/sh

# A POSIX variable
OPTIND=1         # Reset in case getopts has been used previously in the shell.

# Initialize our own variables:
output_file=""
verbose=0

while getopts "h?vf:" opt; do
  case "$opt" in
    h|\?)
      show_help
      exit 0
      ;;
    v)  verbose=1
      ;;
    f)  output_file=$OPTARG
      ;;
  esac
done

shift $((OPTIND-1))

[ "${1:-}" = "--" ] && shift

echo "verbose=$verbose, output_file="$output_file", Leftovers: [email protected]"
EOF

chmod +x /tmp/demo-getopts.sh

/tmp/demo-getopts.sh -vf /etc/hosts foo bar
Output from copy-pasting the block above
verbose=1, output_file="/etc/hosts", Leftovers: foo bar
Usage
demo-getopts.sh -vf /etc/hosts foo bar

The advantages of getopts are:

  1. It’s more portable, and will work in other shells like dash.
  2. It can handle multiple single options like -vf filename in the typical Unix way, automatically.

The disadvantage of getopts is that it can only handle short options (-h, not --help) without additional code.

There is a getopts tutorial which explains what all of the syntax and variables mean. In bash, there is also help getopts, which might be informative.

ANSWER:

From digitalpeer.com with minor modifications:

Usage myscript.sh -p=my_prefix -s=dirname -l=libname

#!/bin/bash
for i in "[email protected]"
do
case $i in
    -p=*|--prefix=*)
    PREFIX="${i#*=}"

    ;;
    -s=*|--searchpath=*)
    SEARCHPATH="${i#*=}"
    ;;
    -l=*|--lib=*)
    DIR="${i#*=}"
    ;;
    --default)
    DEFAULT=YES
    ;;
    *)
            # unknown option
    ;;
esac
done
echo PREFIX = ${PREFIX}
echo SEARCH PATH = ${SEARCHPATH}
echo DIRS = ${DIR}
echo DEFAULT = ${DEFAULT}

To better understand ${i#*=} search for “Substring Removal” in this guide. It is functionally equivalent to `sed 's/[^=]*=//' <<< "$i"` which calls a needless subprocess or `echo "$i" | sed 's/[^=]*=//'` which calls two needless subprocesses.

ANSWER:

deploy.sh

#!/bin/bash

while [[ "$#" -gt 0 ]]; do
    case $1 in
        -t|--target) target="$2"; shift ;;
        -u|--uglify) uglify=1 ;;
        *) echo "Unknown parameter passed: $1"; exit 1 ;;
    esac
    shift
done

echo "Where to deploy: $target"
echo "Should uglify  : $uglify"

Usage:

./deploy.sh -t dev -u

# OR:

./deploy.sh --target dev --uglify