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Give a Argbash a try and stop being terrorized by those pesky arguments! With Argbash, you will get:

What it is

Argbash is not a parsing library, but it is rather a code generator that generates a bash library tailor-made for your script. It lets you to describe arguments your script should take and then, you can generate the bash parsing code. It stays in your script by default, but you can have it generated to a separate file and let Argbash to include it in your script for you. In any case, you won't need Argbash to run the script.

Argbash is very simple to use and the generated code is relatively nice to read. Moreover, argument definitions stay embedded in the script, so when you need to update the parsing logic, you just re-run the argbash script on the already generated script.

You can start using Argbash even more quickly by generating the initial template for your script using argbash-init tool, which is also available in this image.

How to use it

This image is useful if you work with Docker and you would like to use Argbash without having to install it. The sensible way how to use the Argbash image is to create a one-line shell script that does the same as argbash or argbash-init, but accomplishes the task by creating the container and destroying it after the job has been done.

OS script
Posix (e.g. Linux, MacOS) docker run --rm -e PROGRAM=argbash -v "$(pwd):/work" -u "$(id -u):$(id -g)" matejak/argbash "$@"
Windows docker run --rm -e PROGRAM=argbash -v "%CD%:/work" matejak/argbash %*

What happens here? A container is created from the matejak/argbash image.

Note that as the container mounts the host directory, you may have issues with SELinux or similar measures enforcing proactive security.


Imagine that you want to download an example, edit it, and make it a full-fledged script with argbash. You obviously have to fire up docker, but then, you just create the one-liner, download the example, and proceed.

printf '%s\n' '#!/bin/bash' 'docker run --rm -v "$(pwd):/work" -u "$(id -u):$(id -g)" matejak/argbash "$@"' > argbash-docker
printf '%s\n' '#!/bin/bash' 'docker run --rm -e PROGRAM=argbash-init -v "$(pwd):/work" -u "$(id -u):$(id -g)" matejak/argbash "$@"' > argbash-init-docker
chmod a+x argbash-docker argbash-init-docker

./argbash-init-docker --pos positional-arg --opt optional-arg minimal.m4
vim minimal.m4

./argbash-docker minimal.m4 -o my-script.sh
./my-script.sh -h


The Argbash docker image has been contributed by Peter Cummuskey. Idea to dockerize argbash-init came up from user gnoshti.