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ARGV::Struct - Parse complex data structures passed in ARGV


  use ARGV::Struct;
  my $struct = ARGV::Struct->new->parse;


Have you ever felt that you need something different than Getopt?

Are you tired of shoehorning Getopt style arguments into your commandline scripts?

Are you trying to express complex datastructures via command line?

then ARGV::Struct is for you!

It's designed so the users of your command line utilities won't hate you when things get complex.


I've had to use some command-line utilities that had to do creative stuff to transmit deeply nested arguments, or datastructure-like information. Here are some strategies that I've found over time:

Complex arguments codified as JSON

JSON is horrible for the command line because you have to escape the quotes. It's a nightmare.

  command --complex_arg "{\"key1\":\"value1\",\"key2\":\"value2\"}"

Arguments encoded via some custom scheme

These schemes fail when you have to make values complex (lists, or other key/values)

  command --complex_arg key1,value1:key2,value2

Repeating Getopt arguments

Getopt friendly, but too verbose

  command --key key1 --value value1 --key key1 --value value 2


The design of this module is aimed at "playing well with the shell". The main purpose is to let the user transmit complex data structures, while staying compact enough for command line use.

Key/Value sets (objects)

On the command line, the user can transmit sets of key/value pairs within curly brackets

  command { K_V_PAIR1 K_V_PAIR2 }

The shell is expected to do some work for us, so key/value pairs are separated by spaces

Each key/value pair is expressed as

  Key: Value

The colon between Keys and values is optional, so

  Key Value

is the same as above

If the value contains spaces, the user can surround the pair with the shell metacharacters

  command { Key: " Value " }

Values can also be objects:

  command { Key: { Nested Key } }

or lists

  command { Key: [ 1 2 3 ] }

If you want a key with a colon at the end, just repeat the colon:

  Key:: Value


  command [ VALUE1 VALUE2 ]

Each value can be a simple scalar value, or an object or list

  command [ { Name X } { Name Y } ]
  command [ [ 1 2 3 ] [ 4 5 6 ] [ 7 8 9 ] ]
  command [ "First Value" "Second Value" ]

Values are never separated by commas to keep the syntax compact. The shell is expected to split the different elements into tokens, so the user is expected to use shell quotes to keep values together


new([argv => ArrayRef])

Return an instance of the parser. If argv is not specified, @ARGV will be used.


return the parsed data structure


This module is quite experimental. I developed it while developing Paws (a Perl AWS SDK). It has a commandline utility that needs to recollect all the Attributes and Values for method calls, and lots of times, they get complex. Since trying to pass params with Getopt was getting ugly as hell, I decided that it would be better to do things in a different way, and eventually thought it could be an independent module.

I'm publishing this module to get the idea out to the public so it can be worked on.

Please bash the guts out of it. Break it and shake it till it falls apart.

Contribute bugs and patches. All input is welcome.

To help with the bashing, when you install this dist, you get a command line util called argvstruct. It will basically print a Data::Dumper of the structure generated by it's arguments

  user@host:~$ argvstruct { Hello Guys How [ Are You { Doing Today } ] }
  $VAR1 = {
          'Hello' => 'Guys',
          'How' => [
                       'Doing' => 'Today'


Try to combine with Getopt/MooseX::Getopt, so some parameters could be an ARGV::Struct. The rest would be parsed Getopt style.


The source code and issues are on


Matt S. Trout for suggesting that ARGV::Struct syntax be JSONY compatible


    Jose Luis Martinez


Copyright (c) 2015 by Jose Luis Martinez Torres

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

The full text of the license can be found in the LICENSE file included with this module.