Cymen Vig

Software Craftsman

Clojure: using clojure/tools.cli to parse command line arguments

For my HTTP server project I want the option of configuring it on the command line for at least the port, document root and potentially IP to listen on (or all). I came across Building a Clojure app with a command-line interface? on StackOverflow which informed me that was the right path to take over the with-commmand-line.

Here is an example of using clojure/tools-cli which revealed some Clojure syntax I’d overlooked (more on that later):

(ns server.core
  (:require [ :as c]))

(defn -main [& args]
  (let [[options args banner]
        (c/cli args
          ["-port" "Port to listen on" :default 5000]
          ["-root" "Root directory of web server" :default "public"])]
    (println "port:" (:port options))
    (println "root:" (:root options))))
  • options is a hash-map of the parsed options

  • args is the other arguments on the command line

  • banneris a string one can print for command line options – for this program, it would contain:


    Switches Default Desc ——– ——- —- -port 5000 Port to listen on -root public Root directory of web server

Note that tools.cli throws an exception when an unrecognized command line option is provided like so:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.RuntimeException:
  java.lang.Exception: '-z' is not a valid argument

I guessed it would default to showing the banner it generates but it does not do so.

Basic Clojure Syntax I wasn’t aware one could take a returned vector and assign its contents to multiple variables with let as done in this line from above:

(let [[options args banner] ...

In a prior post, I explained how I was passing back a response to an HTTP request as a hash-map of hash-maps. This can start to get confusing and I think the approach used above can make this simpler – instead of a hash-map of hash-maps consider returning a vector of hash-maps.