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ParamContainer - easy-to-use command-line parameter parser

, 3 Feb 2005
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ParamContainer is a simple and easy to use C++ class to parse command line parameters. Parameters format are derived from UNIX getopt_long() function syntax but may contain nested parameters as well.


ParamContainer is a simple and easy to use C++ class to parse command line parameters. Parameters format is derived from UNIX getopt_long() function syntax but may contain nested parameters as well. It was developed to fit the requirements of our projects, but we'll be glad if it will be useful for somebody else. Main features of ParamContainer are:

  • Easy to use.
  • Structure of command line conforms object hierarchy.
  • Adding/changing parameters is really easy. You don't need to modify class interfaces and anything outside of the class which new parameter corresponds to.
  • Parameters can be saved to the project file and loaded later.
  • When command line contains additional file names, their paths will be converted to relative in project file, so you can freely move project with all required files to a different location.
  • ParamContainer can be used as internal interface between presentation (GUI) and logic parts of the project. You can use the same logic part in graphics/command-line versions of your project.
  • Dynamically generated help screen.
  • Powerful error handling.
  • Portability between Win32 and Unix systems (on Win32 systems, there must be WIN32 preprocessor definition).

Using the code

Here is a simple way to use ParamContainer in your project:

  • Add ParamContainer.cpp and ParamContainer.h into your project.
  • Include ParamContainer.h in your main CPP file:
    #include "ParamContainer.h"
  • Create ParamContainer object in your main() function.
    ParamContainer p;
  • Add some parameters using addParam().
    p.addParam("long-name", 'n', ParamContainer::regular, 
               "parameter description", "default_value");  
    //"long-name" - long parameter name
    //'n' - short parameter name
    //ParamContainer::regular - parameter type 
    // (regular means that parameter is not required and has an argument)
    //"parameter description" - description
    //"default_value" - default value
  • Call parseCommandLine().
    p.parseCommandLine(argc, argv[]);
  • Obtain parameter values via [].
    cout << p["long-name"];
  • Compile and run your program, specifying your argument:
            programname --long-name=value


            programname -n value


            programname -n "value"


25.08.2004 - First version is available.

BioRainbow Group.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author


Russian Federation Russian Federation
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Comments and Discussions

Questionnice, but no way to retrieve parameter values? Pinmemberphilgoetz20-Apr-06 9:54 
Generalnice, but Pinmembercooky_r22-Aug-05 0:16 
GeneralBoost has a very similar library Pinmemberalnitak22-Sep-04 1:49 
GeneralA few suggestions Pinmemberalnitak15-Sep-04 10:22 
GeneralRe: A few suggestions PinmemberJohann Gerell5-Feb-05 7:48 
GeneralVery nice Pinmemberm4dc4p1-Sep-04 6:55 
GeneralRe: Very nice PinmemberBioRainbow2-Sep-04 21:55 
Thank you for your feedback.
No, unfortunately our group currently is not developing on C#.
All comments are in Russian language (Win1251 charset, if you care about Smile | :) We thought that explanations in readme.txt will be enough to understand how to use it. If you still want to see comments, we can translate to English in a while.
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