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    cmdutil

    1.1.0 • Public • Published

    node-cmdutil: common command-line program functions

    This module provides a few functions that are useful for command-line programs written in Node.

    • warn(...): print a warning message to stderr
    • fail(...): print a warning message to stderr and exit
    • usage(...): print a usage message to stderr and exit
    • exitOnEpipe: exit normally (with status 0) when EPIPE is seen on stdout. This causes Node programs to behave like other programs do by default on most Unix-like systems. See details below.
    • confirm: print a message to stdout, read one byte of input from stdin, and test whether it appears affirmative

    You should also check out:

    • node-getopt for POSIX option parsing
    • node-tab for reading and writing tables similar to other Unix tools
    • node-verror for constructing error chains that produce useful messages for command-line tools
    • node-extsprintf for Node.js analogs to printf(), fprintf(), and sprintf().
    • node-cmdln for an alternative framework for building command-line programs

    Functions

    The interfaces here follow Joyent's Best Practices for Error Handling in Node.js.

    All of the functions here except for confirm() are synchronous. None of the functions in this module emit operational errors. The only possible errors are invalid arguments, which are programmer errors. These are thrown and should not be handled.

    warn(...)

    warn(...) emits a warning message to stderr in the same format as most other Unix tools, which is that the warning message is prefixed with the program name. See configure() below.

    You can supply arguments in one of two ways.

    warn(err)
    warn(fmtstr, arg0, arg1, ...)
    
    • If the first argument is an instance of Error, then the message printed will be err.message.
    • Otherwise, all arguments will be passed directly to node-extsprintf's sprintf function. This works similar to Node's util.format, but it supports many more format specifiers and it's stricter about null and undefined types.

    For example, this test program called "warn.js" produces:

    var cmdutil = require('../lib/cmdutil');
    cmdutil.warn('test message');

    produces:

    warn.js: test message
    

    This program:

    cmdutil.warn('bad argument: "%s"', -5);

    produces:

    warn.js: bad argument: "-5"
    

    And here's an example using an Error:

    cmdutil.warn(new Error('bad input'));

    which produces:

    warn.js: bad input
    

    You can change the program name that gets printed using configure():

    cmdutil.configure({
        'progname': 'myprog'
    });
    cmdutil.warn('test message');

    which prints:

    myprog: test message
    

    fail(...)

    fail(...) emits a warning message just like warn(...), but then exits the process using process.exit().

    The arguments are exactly like warn(..), but you may specify an optional numeric first argument that indicates the exit status to pass to process.exit(). If you don't specify one, the exit status 1 is used.

    fail(err)                             /* will exit with status 1 */
    fail(fmtstr, arg0, arg1, ...)         /* will exit with status 1 */
    fail(status, err)                     /* will exit with status "status" */
    fail(status, fmtstr, arg0, arg1, ...) /* will exit with status "status" */
    

    The easiest thing is to just pass an Error:

    cmdutil.configure({ 'progname': 'myprog' });
    cmdutil.fail(new Error('something went wrong');
    /* This code is never reached. */
    

    which outputs:

    $ node examples/fail-error.js 
    myprog: something went wrong
    $ echo $?
    1
    

    You can use node-verror to chain together messages:

    var cmdutil = require('../lib/cmdutil');
    var fs = require('fs');
    var VError = require('verror');
     
    cmdutil.configure({ 'progname': 'myprog' });
    try {
            fs.statSync('/nonexistent_file');
    } catch (ex) {
            cmdutil.fail(new VError(ex, 'something went wrong'));
            /* This code is never reached. */
    }

    This outputs:

    $ node examples/fail-verror.js 
    myprog: something went wrong: ENOENT, no such file or directory '/nonexistent_file'
    $ echo $?
    1
    

    Just like with warn(), you can instead pass printf-style args:

    var cmdutil = require('../lib/cmdutil');
    cmdutil.configure({ 'progname': 'myprog' });
    cmdutil.fail('something %s went wrong', 'very bad');
    /* This code is never reached. */

    produces:

    $ node examples/fail-printflike.js 
    myprog: something very bad went wrong
    $ echo $?
    1
    

    As mentioned above, with either invocation, you can specify a leading number to use as the exit status instead of the default status of 1:

    var cmdutil = require('../lib/cmdutil');
    cmdutil.configure({ 'progname': 'myprog' });
    cmdutil.fail(7, 'something %s went wrong', 'very bad');
    /* This code is never reached. */

    which does this:

    $ node examples/fail-status.js 
    myprog: something very bad went wrong
    $ echo $?
    7
    

    usage()

    usage() does several things, in order:

    • prints an optional warning message
    • prints one or more synopses representing different ways to invoke your program
    • prints a message of additional usage information
    • exits with status 2 (as is standard for usage errors)

    The synopses and additional usage information are whatever was last passed to configure(). You must have previously called configure() with valid values for these.

    If you invoke usage() with no arguments, then only the usage message is printed. If you pass arguments, they're treated exactly as they are for warn(): they can be an Error or a series of printf-like arguments. These are used to construct an error message that's printed to stderr before the warning message.

    Here's an example:

    cmdutil.configure({
        'progname': 'myprog',
        'usageMessage': 'Fetch or update the contents of a remote URL.',
        'synopses': [
            'fetch  [-v] URL',
            'upload [-v] URL FILENAME'
        ]
    });
    cmdutil.usage();
    /* This code is never reached. */

    and here's what it prints out:

    $ node examples/usage.js 
    usage: myprog fetch  [-v] URL
           myprog upload [-v] URL FILENAME
    Fetch or update the contents of a remote URL.
    $ echo $?
    2
    

    You can also use the usual warn()-like arguments to print a warning message:

    cmdutil.configure({
        'progname': 'myprog',
        'usageMessage': 'Fetch or update the contents of a remote URL.',
        'synopses': [
            'fetch  [-v] URL',
            'upload [-v] URL FILENAME'
        ]
    });
    cmdutil.usage(new Error('no URL specified'));
    /* This code is never reached. */

    which prints:

    $ node examples/usage-warn.js 
    myprog: no URL specified
    usage: myprog fetch  [-v] URL
           myprog upload [-v] URL FILENAME
    Fetch or update the contents of a remote URL.
    

    configure(args)

    configure(args) takes arguments as named properties of args. Supported properties are:

    • synopses: an array of strings that are used in the usage() output. See usage() below.
    • usageMessage: a string message that is used when you call usage(...). See usage() below.
    • progname: a string used as the program name in warning messages. If unspecified, the program name is taken by applying Node's path.basename function on process.argv[1].

    The only time you need to call this function is if you're going to use the usage() function later, and in that case you must specify usageMessage and synopses. If you specify either of these, you must also specify the other. If you call this function multiple times, only the last values for any of the above properties will be used.

    exitOnEpipe()

    This function causes an EPIPE error on process.stdout to to exit the program immediately with status 0, using process.exit(0). This makes a Node program behave like most other programs on Unix-like systems. Any other errors on stdout will be thrown with throw, so these errors will be uncatchable. Do not use this function if you intend to handle other errors on stdout.

    This function takes no arguments and produces no errors.

    Background: By default, on Unix-like systems, programs automatically exit with status 0 when they receive SIGPIPE. This behavior supports the common pattern of piping one command into another but having the first program terminate if the second program terminates. For example, if you generate many lines of output and pipe it to head(1):

    # yes | head
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    #
    

    then this works as you'd expect: the yes program exits when this happens, even though yes normally runs until you explicitly stop it. We can see what's going on using strace or truss:

    # truss -t write yes | head
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    y
    write(1, " y\n y\n y\n y\n y\n y\n".., 5120)    = 5120
    write(1, " y\n y\n y\n y\n y\n y\n".., 5120)    Err#32 EPIPE
        Received signal #13, SIGPIPE [default]
    

    We see that the yes process got EPIPE from the second write(2) system call, and that resulted in a SIGPIPE being delivered. The default disposition of SIGPIPE is to cause the process to exit with status 0. This is one of those behind-the-scenes mechanisms that makes the Unix shell work the way you'd expect.

    By default, this doesn't happen with Node programs. Instead, Node crashes on the EPIPE from write(2):

    # node -e 'function tick() { console.log("y"); } setInterval(tick, 1000);' | sleep 3
    
    events.js:72
            throw er; // Unhandled 'error' event
                  ^
    Error: write EPIPE
        at errnoException (net.js:907:11)
        at Object.afterWrite (net.js:723:19)
    # 
    

    When this happens, the status code is non-zero, though you have to set -o pipefail in your shell to see that in this example. This happens because Node explicitly ignores SIGPIPE and then emits errors like EPIPE on the appropriate stream object. For stdout (and possibly stderr), this is almost certainly not what you want.

    Calling exitOnEpipe() adds an 'error' listener to process.stdout that checks whether the error is for EPIPE. If so, it calls process.exit(0). If not, it throws the error. It would be better to propagate it in a way that could be handled, but there's not a great way to do this from this context, and it's uncommon that people intend to handle other errors on stdout anyway.

    confirm(args, callback)

    confirm(args, callback) emits a message to stdout, waits for the user to input a single byte (in raw mode, if it's a TTY), and invokes callback with a boolean value indicating whether the confirmation was either "y" or "Y" (for "yes"). Any other response (including end-of-stream or a blank line) is considered false.

    The only supported argument inside args is:

    • message: the message to print to stdout (verbatim)

    callback is invoked as callback(result). result is a boolean indicating whether the user input was affirmative. There are no operational errors for this function. Callers are expected to handle errors on stdin if desired.

    This function uses stdin and stdout directly, so callers should take care to avoid using it in contexts where that's not appropriate (e.g., in a program that reads data on stdin or produces formatted data on stdout). The behavior is undefined if stdin has already emitted 'end' when this function is called.

    Contributions

    Contributions welcome. Code should be "make prepush" clean. To run "make prepush", you'll need these tools:

    If you're changing something non-trivial or user-facing, you may want to submit an issue first.

    Keywords

    none

    Install

    npm i cmdutil

    DownloadsWeekly Downloads

    28

    Version

    1.1.0

    License

    MIT

    Last publish

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