Robert Powers


Getopt::Fancy - Object approach to handling command line options, focusing on end user happiness


    use Getopt::Fancy;

    my $opts = Getopt::Fancy->new();
    $opts->add("db", GT   => "=s",
                     EX   => "<db_name>",
                     DESC => "The database to dump. Leave unset for all databases.",
                     DEF  => "teen_titans",
                     ALLOWED => ["--all-databases", "mydb", "teen_titans"],
                     REGEX => '^[a-zA-Z0-9\_]+$',
                     REQ  => 0,
                     SECTION => "Required DB Params");

    # Allow just printing out of set options
    $opts->add("check_args", DESC => "Just print all the options", SECTION => "Misc Params");

    # Allow user to specify list of options s/he needs help with
    $opts->add("help", GT => ":s@", EX => "[option1,option2..]", 
               DESC => "Give option names and it'll print the help for just those options, otherwise all.", 
               SECTION=>"Misc Params", COMMAS=>1);

    # Get the command line options
    my $error_msg = $opts->get_options();
    print_usage($error_msg) if $error_msg;

    print "Will dump this database: $opts->{db} \n";
    print "User wants help information on these: " . join(", ", @{$opts->{help}}) . "\n" if ($opts->{help});

    # Copy the options to a hash
    my %opts_hash = %{$opts};

    print "This is my copy of db: $opts_hash{db}\n";

    print_usage() if $opts->{help};
    print_args() if $opts->{check_args};

    sub print_args
      print $opts->get_values();
    sub print_usage
       my $hopts;
       my $msg = shift;

       $hopts = $opts->{help} unless (scalar @{$opts->{help}} == 0);
       print "usage: $0 <REQUIRED_ARGS> <OPTIONAL_ARGS>\n";
       print $opts->get_usage($hopts);

       print "ERROR: $msg\n" if $msg;



Getopt::Fancy Allows command line options to be all in one place in your script including default values, allowed values, user-friendly descriptions, required flags and pattern matching requirements. Ofttimes script writers skimp on the usage information or have out-dated help information. This modules helps script writers to be better citizens.

This module uses Getopt::Long, so the same rules apply.


my $opts = GetOpt::Fancy->new()

Construct a new object.

$opts->add($opt_name, %config)

add() is where you specify the command line options you want to accept and the configuration for each.

    $opts->add("hostname", GT   => "=s",
                           EX   => "<my_hostname>",
                           DESC => "The hostname to connect to to do whatever.",
                           DEF  => "batcomputer",
                           REGEX => '^[a-zA-Z0-9\_\-\.]+$',
                           SECTION => "Connection Params");

The possible config values are ...

  • GT - The Getopts type specification (=i, :s, =s@, etc)

  • DEF - The default value for this option if the user running your script doesn't give one. If the option is multivalued, pass in a reference to an array of values.

  • REQ - A flag (1 or 0) denoting if this option is required. (You can just leave this out if it's 0)

  • REGEX - A regular expression the value must match.

  • ALLOWED - A reference to an array of allowed values. This allows you to restrict the set.

  • COMMAS - A flag (1 or 0) denoting if this multivalued option should allow comma separated values. This only applies to options that have a "@" in their GT (=s@, etc). If this is set, the user of your script can specify multiple values by just doing something like: -colors red,green,blue

  • EX - A human readable example value for the user of your script that is printed during -help

  • DESC - A human readable description of the option for the user of your script that is printed during -help

  • SECTION - A human readable section header for the user of your script that is printed during -help. This allows you to group similar options together


Call this when it's time to read and parse the command line options. It will return a human readable string describing to the end user what they did wrong. If all is well, returns undef.

After you call this, you can then treat $opts as a hash ref: $opts->{my_option}


Returns a pretty, printable string of all the possible options, example values, descriptions, allowed values and default values, grouped by SECTION. If a reference to an array of option names is passed in, only usage information for those options is included.


Returns a pretty, printable string of all the options and currently set values.

The object pretends to be a hash ref, so if you want values themselves, just do:


Returns the human readable error string describing the error during the options handling. This string is also returned after get_options


Copyright 2006 by Robert Powers, all rights reserved. This program is free software, you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.


2006, Robert Powers <>