Skip to main content

Script arguments parsing library.

Project description

Script Arguments Parser

This library is meant to provide an easy way to consume arguments for scripts in more complex scenarios without writing too much code.

license latest release latest release date

PyPI version Python

Why something more?

In Python there are a lot of ways to consume cli parameters, starting from built-in parsers finishing at libraries like docopt. But unfortunately during my adventure I encountered a few problems that were not solvable just by using one of them. Few of those problems:

  • get values from multiple sources: cli, config file, environment variable, default;
  • convert given variable according to argument definition;
  • all argument information (cli option, fallback env var, conversion type, default value etc.) defined in one place;
  • definitions written outside the code, so the script is kept clean and simple;
  • more complex conversion types build in.

Main features

  • Parameters defined in both human- and computer-readable format outside of the code, in one place
  • Argument values converted to given format (predefined or custom)
  • Config file fallback
  • Environmental variable fallback
  • Default values
  • Human readable errors


One of the goals of this library was to minimize amount of the code. Therefore whole usage looks like this:

from script_args_parser import ArgumentsParser

args = ArgumentsParser.from_files('example-parameters.toml', yaml_config='example-config.yaml')

Above script will read arguments definition from example-parameters.toml and try to read their values in following order:

  1. from cli options,
  2. from config file (example-config.yaml in example),
  3. from environment variables,
  4. default values.

If any argument does not have value defined it will be None, unless it is required, so it will raise an exception.

When all values are established, parser will convert them to specified type.

Arguments definition

The list of script arguments is provided in toml file. Example argument can look like this:

description = "Some fancy description"  # required
type = "str"   # required
cli_arg = "--cli-opt"  # required
env_var = "ENV_VAR_NAME"
required = false
default_value = "I got you"

description (mandatory)

Human readable description of an argument.

type (mandatory)

Parser will use this field to convert value of the argument from string to one that is specified.

Some more complex types are also changing the way cli options are parsed.

For detailed description of possible values and their meaning, see Types section.

cli_arg (mandatory)

Name of the cli option throught which value can be set.


Name of environment variable that will be used to read value if not specified by CLI or config file.

For the format used by more complex types see Types section.


By default False. If set to true, the parser will raise an error if value will not be found anywhere.

Can be specified as boolean value (true, false) or by string ('true', 'false', 'yes', 'no', '1', '0').


Value that will be used if not specified by CLI, config file or environment variable.

For the format used by more complex types see Types section.


This is the list of built-in types supported.


Type field value: str

No special operations are performed.


Type field value: int

Value will be parsed to integer, if not possible, exception will be raised.

Post operations

Additional parameter post_operations can be used. It stores the expression that will be evaluated after the value is read. The result of evaluation will be used as a value. The {value} token in expression will be substituted with the value provided by the user.

For example when a program requires value in seconds, but the user will always want to specify minutes the post_operations can be: "{value} * 60".


Type field value: bool

Some strings has been defined to be matched to specific values (case insensitive):

  • True can be specified as: true, yes, 1;
  • False can be specified as: false, no, 0;

All other values will be converted to bool using Python rules.


Type field value: switch

Behaves in the same way as bool but additionaly cli option can be passed without an argument and will be considered True.


Type field value: path

Will be converted into pathlib.Path object. Worth noticing is that empty string will be equivalent of current directory.

Parent path

Additional parameter parent_path can be used. It shall contain a name of another path argument. Current path will be prepended with the value of parent_path.

With given toml file the default value of picture_name will be 'images/beautiful.jpg'.

description = "Path to folder with pictures"
type = "path"
cli_arg = "--pictures-folder"
default = "./images"

description = "Name of a picture file"
type = "path"
cli_arg = "--picture-name"
parent_path = "pictures_folder"
default = "beautiful.jpg"

It is possible to make a hierarchy of paths, but keep in mind that the arguments are evaluated in order that they are defined in toml file, so with below toml file the picture_name will have value 'the_best_user\beautiful.jpg' even though user_folder will be pictures_folder\user_folder.

description = "Path to folder with pictures"
type = "path"
cli_arg = "--pictures-folder"
default = "./images"

description = "Name of a picture file"
type = "path"
cli_arg = "--picture-name"
parent_path = "user_folder"
default = "beautiful.jpg"

description = "Name of a user folder file"
type = "path"
cli_arg = "--user-folder"
parent_path = "pictures_folder"
default = "the_best_user"


Type field value: list[<simple type>]

Will produce a list of elements with given simple types (any that was described above).

When this type is specified, multiple cli options should be used to pass list elements: --child-name John --child-name David

In default value or environment variable use semicolon to split values:

default_value = "John; David; 'Some;Very;Strange;Name'"


Type field value: tuple[<simple type>, <optional simple type>, ...]

Example type field value: tuple[str], tuple[int, str, bool].

Will produce a list with given amount of values of simple types elements.

When this type is specified, cli options should be used once but with multiple values. For tuple[str, str, str] --all-my-names John Maria "De'naban"

In default value or environment variable separate values with space:

default_value = "John Maria "De'naban"

List of tuples

Type field value: list[tuple[<simple type>, <optional simple type>, ...]]

Combining list and tuple types. Will produce a list of lists.

For cli use: --child John 16 --child David 18 --child Maria 21

For default values and enviroment variables use:

default_value = "John 16; David 18; Maria 21"

Above examples for list[tuple[str, int]] will produce:

[['John', 16], ['David', 18], ['Maria', 21]]

Dataclass argument

Type field value: <name of the dataclass>

Parses a list or a dict to user defined dataclass.

In order for the dataclass to be used it has to be decorated with script_args_parser.decorators.dataclass_argument.

With given Python code and toml definition:

class MyDataClass:
    value_1: str
    value_2: str
description = "Some two string values"
type = "MyDataClass"
cli_arg = "--two-values"

The following yaml input files can be used

  - first_value
  - second value


  value_1: first_value
  value_2: second value

The type can also be used as a list type argument like:

description = "Some two string values"
type = "list[MyDataClass]"
cli_arg = "--two-values"

NOTE: Currently cli or env values are not supported for this type.

Planned work

Work that still need to be done prior to v1.0

  • Default and envs for list
  • Default and envs for tuple
  • Default and envs for list of tuples
  • Add more list of tuples tests
  • Add path type (with tests)
  • Create from path
  • Support config file
  • Document possible types
  • Add support for env and cli values for dataclass type
  • Write some complex test cases
  • Allow non-cli arguments
  • Add logging
  • Allow custom argument types
  • Generate usage
  • Error handling
  • TOML file validation
  • CI/CD


Right now I would like to finish what I planned by myself and release version 1.0. If you have any suggestions or you have found bugs, feel free to submit an issue and I will take a look at it as soon as possible.


Development documentation can be found here

Project details

Download files

Download the file for your platform. If you're not sure which to choose, learn more about installing packages.

Source Distribution

script-args-parser-0.4.0.tar.gz (16.1 kB view hashes)

Uploaded source

Built Distribution

script_args_parser-0.4.0-py3-none-any.whl (13.4 kB view hashes)

Uploaded py3

Supported by

AWS AWS Cloud computing and Security Sponsor Datadog Datadog Monitoring Fastly Fastly CDN Google Google Download Analytics Microsoft Microsoft PSF Sponsor Pingdom Pingdom Monitoring Sentry Sentry Error logging StatusPage StatusPage Status page