CRÜCIAL PŸTHON Week 9: argparse

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from IPython.core.display import Image 
Image(url='', width=600) 

When IPython notebooks grow up...

Notebooks are great, but sometimes you need a program that runs from the command-line. Sometimes, your program even has options! Flags! Variable-length argument lists!

What ever shall we do?


If this was C, we'd most likely use getopt(3) to set up an argument parser. This provides the familiar style of -v and --verbose command-line arguments that we all know and love.

The Python analog of getopt is ArgParse: a module that takes the pain out of constructing argument parsers. Today, we'll look through some of its basic functionality.

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# First, we import the argparse module
import argparse
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# Let's define a silly function to add and multiply numbers
def my_function(lower_bound, upper_bound, multiply=None, verbose=False):
    value = 0
    for x in range(lower_bound, upper_bound):
        if verbose:
            print 'value <- %3d + %3d' % (value, x)
        value = value + x
    if multiply:
        for x in multiply:
            if verbose:
                print 'value <- %3d * %3d' % (value, x)
            value = value * x
    return value
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# Let's define a function to process a list of string arguments
def process_arguments(args):

    # First, construct the parser
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description="Adds a set of numbers, and then multiplies by an optional list")
    # Let's add our first argument
    parser.add_argument('-l',                                  # Short switch
                        '--lower-bound',                       # Long switch
                        dest='lower_bound',                    # Destination in our option dict
                        type=int,                              # Type of argument we expect
                        default=0,                             # Default value
                        help='Lower bound for the summation'   # Descriptive text
    # And another
                        help='Upper bound for the summation')
    # How about optional positional arguments?
                        help='One or numbers to multiply with the sum')
    # A binary switch?
                        help='verbose output')
    # Finally, apply the parser to the argument list
    options = parser.parse_args(args)
    # And return it as a dict
    return vars(options)
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# A first test, use the help function:
print process_arguments(['-h'])
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# If we call with no arguments
print process_arguments([])
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# Or lots of arguments
print process_arguments(['-l', '3', '--upper-bound', '8', '--verbose', '-1', '2', '7'])
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# To actually use this on the command line, get sys.argv[1:]
import sys
options = process_arguments(sys.argv[1:])