Writing Command-Line Scripts

Command-line scripts in Astropy should follow a consistent scheme to promote readability and compatibility.

The actual script should be in the /scripts directory of the Astropy source distribution, and should do nothing aside from importing a main function from astropy and execute it. This is partly necessary because the “2to3” utility that converts python 2.x code to 3.x does not convert scripts. These scripts should be executable, include #!/usr/bin/env python at the top, and should not end in .py.

The main functions these scripts call should accept an optional single argument that holds the sys.argv list, except for the script name (e.g., argv[1:]). This function can live in its own module, or be part of a larger module that implements a class or function for astropy library use. The main function should do very little actual work - it should only parse the arguments and pass those arguments on to some library function so that the library function can be used programmatically when needed. Command-line options can be parsed however desired, but the argparse module is recommended when possible, due to its simpler and more flexible interface relative to the older optparse. argparse is only available in python >=2.7 and >=3.2, however, so it should be imported as from astropy.util.compat import argparse .


Contents of /scripts/cmdlinescript

#!/usr/bin/env python
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
"""An astropy command-line script"""

import astropy.somepackage.somemod


Contents of /astropy/somepackage/somemod.py

def do_something(args, option=False):
    for a in args:
        if option:
            ...do something...
            ...do something else...

def main(args=None):
    from astropy.utils.compat import argparse

    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description='Process some integers.')
    parser.add_argument('-o', '--option', dest='op',action='store_true',
                        help='Some option that turns something on.')
    parser.add_argument('stuff', metavar='S', nargs='+',
                        help='Some input I should be able to get lots of.')

    res = parser.parse_args(args)