Rabu, 03 Februari 2010

App::Options

Over the course of many years, I have written lots of lots of short command-line scripts in Perl (Perl's great for that, you know). Most of these scripts are small utilities, or replacement for shell scripts, or automation tools.

All of these scripts invariably need some ability to take command-line options. Of course, back in the days, I used Getopt::Std and Getopt::Long. They both did their task well, but also invariably I will need to provide -h or --help for usage information. I always hate having to write this usage text manually.

Also, if you use your scripts often enough, you will end up with the same incantation for some, that you will want to put the command line options to a config file to avoid repeating yourself. Passwords are also not appropriate in command-line options due to security issues.

So I now use App::Options and have never looked back. You can look at it as a pretty straightforward replacement for Getopt::Long, but it gives you automatic --help and --version (--program_version actually, but --version also does something else wonderful). And it automatically enables you to read config files. I emphasize "automatically" because you absolutely do not have to do a single thing, as App::Options gives you some nice defaults on where to find the config files.

How great is that? Just write your code as if you're using Getopt::Long, but gain all these extra abilities for free!

There are other solutions for command-line scripts, like App::Cmd, but really App::Options is the easiest way especially for old-timers like me who do not want to change their Getopt::Long-style habit.

App::Options is not perfect though. There are a couple of small annoyances I have about it, but I'm not hung up on them. The first is that "=" in command-line option is required, i.e. you have to write "--opt=args" instead of "--opt args". Second is, --version defaults to displaying Perl modules version instead of your program's version.

For larger apps, I also sometimes need hierarchical/multilevel configuration. It'd also be nice to have YAML support. These are something I hope to accomplish with Config::Tree, but I guess I still need to work on it quite a bit before I can replace my usage of App::Options with it.

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