C++/linux command line parsing

Posted on 2002-05-29
Last Modified: 2012-05-04
What is the best/easiest way to grab command-line arguments in C++ on a linux box?  I have used getopt with C programs, and I have heard rumors of pure C++ equivalents that return container objects and such.  Does anyone know of a pure C++ function/object/library that I can use to parse my command-line arguments, preferably both the long and short versions (gnu standards).  Something fairly standard would also be nice.
Question by:slyph
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LVL 30

Accepted Solution

Axter earned 33 total points
ID: 7042599
If you mean splitting up the command line option that is passed to the program, this is the default behavior in main.


int main(int argc, char * argv[])

In above main, argv recieves the command line option parsed.
LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 7042601
If this is not what you're looking for, please give more details description.

Author Comment

ID: 7042619
I am looking for something to parse the inputs so that I don't have to do it manually.  I understand how C++ gets the arguments from the command line through argc and argv, however I don't want to have to write all the code to loop through each of the arguments and determine if it has a parameter and if it exists and so forth.  getopt is a C equivalent of what I want to do:  you just pass it a list of the possible flags and it tells you if one is there and what the resulting argument was (if any).  I am looking for a similar C++ function/class, where I can pass it argc and argv and it will do all of the parsing for me and give me back something nice to handle, like a container class.
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LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 7042648
What ever function you use in C, you can use in C++.

Why don't you use getopt for your C++ program?

Author Comment

ID: 7042667
I am just looking for a pure C++ function.  I understand that I can use getopt, but I would like to know if there is a pure C++ equivalent ... I have been on a pure C++ kick lately, none of this C crap for me :)

Anyway, I am asking because I have read about similar classes that provide command line parsing under windows into MFC style CStrings and such, and it sounded a little more useful that getopt.  getopt is great, I am just trying to simplify my life even more.
LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 7042675
getopt is not part of the C standards, so it's not a C specific function.  It's an OS/compiler specific function, which can be used on C or C++.

There is no C++ function that will parse data automatically.
But it's not hard to create a small function that can do it.

Author Comment

ID: 7042787
I know that getopt is a separate GNU function and not a C standard per se, but I have heard enough people use it that I figure that it is a pretty standard part of the linux/C programming community and is located in a commonly installed library, unistd.  I am looking for something like it in C++, which I know exists under Windows for C++ and MFC, but I am asking about linux software.
LVL 49

Expert Comment

ID: 7043469
>> I am just looking for a pure C++ function

C is the purest form of C++
Why would you want to mangle clean, tight code such as getopt?  If you have an irresistible urge, you could write a wrapper for it.

You mention CString, so perhaps you will be using MFC.  If so, you might look into CWinApp::ParseCommandLine() and the associated CCommandLineInfo object.  It does not do waht you want, but it is handy for handling all options and parameters in one place.

-- Dan
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 7043663
>>  I would like to know if there is a pure C++ equivalent

slyph , for one thing such a class is not in STL, and this means that you are not going to find it in the standard, why dont you write such a class yourself, you can model the CCommandLineInfo class that MFC provides.

Maybe you write a class that uses getopt internally and provides a C++ style ineterface.

>> I have read about similar classes that provide command line parsing under windows into MFC style CStrings and such

Those classes are not a standard for windows, they are part of MFC and surely anyone working with Borland or anyother Win32 C compiler would either have to suffice with any framework that comes with the compiler ,write themselves or get from any other source.


Expert Comment

ID: 7047793
he never did say he wanted a standard one, he just said he want a pure C++ equivalent.

according to my understanding, pure != standard
LVL 49

Expert Comment

ID: 7047899
There is a little-known trick that can be used for converting filthy C code into pure C++ code:

1) Add this to the top of the file
    //-------------- the following code is PURE C++

2) Rename the file so that it has a filename extension of CPP

3) Stick a fork in yourself, because you are done.


-- Dan
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 7178863
Dear slyph

I think you forgot this question. I will ask Community Support to close it unless you finalize it within 7 days. You can always request to keep this question open. But remember, experts can only help you if you provide feedback to their questions.
Unless there is objection or further activity,  I will suggest to split between

     "Axter, ambience and DanRollins"

If you think your question was not answered at all, you can post a request in Community support (please include this link) to refund your points. The link to the Community Support area is:


Expert Comment

ID: 7199846
Force accepted

** Mindphaser - Community Support Moderator **

ambience and DanRollins, there will be a separate question with points for your help.

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