CLI Parsing Quest

Tags: python, cli, library


I made a start to a new project. It could end up being a huge undertaking to take it as far as I’d like to, but the hope is that it could actually be useful to people!

The aim is to simplify and enhance the solution to a problem that is regularly tackled by software engineers - defining CLIs (command-line interfaces). This could include anything from a regular command-line application to bots or interactive shells, although the focus (at least initially) is on the former.

I have actually spent some time in this area a couple of times before - a bit on the concept of an interactive CLI back in 2018, and the minegauler bot in 2020. I’ve also been involved in implementing a CLI application at work (using Python’s argparse).

I feel happy with the approach to generically tackle the problem this time. However, when opting for a generic approach there can end up being a huge number of considerations and choices to make! One reason for writing this post is to help give me some focus on how to approach the project - the preference should be for an iterative approach, rather than having nothing to show until after months of development.

Project Fundamentals

Core principles of the project include:

Summary of general project goals:

Potential long-term goals:

Early Steps

I created a GitHub repository and made a start on implementation - the master branch should be stable and the README gives some example usage in case anyone wants to try it out.

The effort has stalled for now since I noticed a similar approach has already been used by the Rust library ‘Clap’ (see here).

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