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Understanding how Console Arguments and Options Are Handled

Understanding how Console Arguments and Options Are Handled

Symfony Console applications follow the same docopt standard used in most CLI utility tools. This article explains how to handle edge-cases when the commands define options with required values, without values, etc. Read this other article to learn about using arguments and options inside Symfony Console commands.

Have a look at the following command that has three options:

namespace Acme\Console\Command;

use Symfony\Component\Console\Command\Command;
use Symfony\Component\Console\Input\InputArgument;
use Symfony\Component\Console\Input\InputDefinition;
use Symfony\Component\Console\Input\InputInterface;
use Symfony\Component\Console\Input\InputOption;
use Symfony\Component\Console\Output\OutputInterface;

class DemoArgsCommand extends Command
    protected static $defaultName = 'demo:args';

    protected function configure()
            ->setDescription('Describe args behaviors')
                new InputDefinition([
                    new InputOption('foo', 'f'),
                    new InputOption('bar', 'b', InputOption::VALUE_REQUIRED),
                    new InputOption('cat', 'c', InputOption::VALUE_OPTIONAL),

    protected function execute(InputInterface $input, OutputInterface $output)
        // ...

Since the foo option doesn’t accept a value, it will be either false (when it is not passed to the command) or true (when --foo was passed by the user). The value of the bar option (and its b shortcut respectively) is required. It can be separated from the option name either by spaces or = characters. The cat option (and its c shortcut) behaves similar except that it doesn’t require a value. Have a look at the following table to get an overview of the possible ways to pass options:

Input foo bar cat
--bar=Hello false "Hello" null
--bar Hello false "Hello" null
-b=Hello false "=Hello" null
-b Hello false "Hello" null
-bHello false "Hello" null
-fcWorld -b Hello true "Hello" "World"
-cfWorld -b Hello false "Hello" "fWorld"
-cbWorld false null "bWorld"

Things get a little bit more tricky when the command also accepts an optional argument:

// ...

new InputDefinition([
    // ...
    new InputArgument('arg', InputArgument::OPTIONAL),

You might have to use the special -- separator to separate options from arguments. Have a look at the fifth example in the following table where it is used to tell the command that World is the value for arg and not the value of the optional cat option:

Input bar cat arg
--bar Hello "Hello" null null
--bar Hello World "Hello" null "World"
--bar "Hello World" "Hello World" null null
--bar Hello --cat World "Hello" "World" null
--bar Hello --cat -- World "Hello" null "World"
-b Hello -c World "Hello" "World" null

This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.