getopt and options with multiple arguments

Tom Anderson twic at
Wed Dec 21 01:20:55 CET 2005

On Mon, 19 Dec 2005, pinkfloydhomer at wrote:

> I want to be able to do something like:
> * -o outputfile
> and then have the shell expand the * as usual, perhaps to hundreds of 
> filenames. But as far as I can see, getopt can only get one argument 
> with each option. In the above case, there isn't even an option string 
> before the *, but even if there was, I don't know how to get getopt to 
> give me all the expanded filenames in an option.

I'm really surprised that getopt doesn't handle this properly by default 
(so getopt.getopt mimics unices with crappy getopts - since when was that 
a feature?), but as Steven pointed out, getopt.gnu_getopt will float your 

I have an irrational superstitious fear of getopt, so this is what i use 
(it returns a list of arguments, followed by a dict mapping flags to 
values; it only handles long options, but uses a single dash for them, as 
is, for some reason, the tradition in java, where i grew up):

def arguments(argv, expand=True):
 	argv = list(argv)
 	args = []
 	flags = {}
 	while (len(argv) > 0):
 		arg = argv.pop(0)
 		if (arg == "--"):
 		elif (expand and arg.startswith("@")):
 			if (len(arg) > 1):
 				arg = arg[1:]
 				arg = argv.pop(0)
 			argv[0:0] = list(stripped(file(arg)))
 		elif (arg.startswith("-") and (len(arg) > 1)):
 			arg = arg[1:]
 			if (":" in arg):
 				key, value = arg.split(":")
 				key = arg
 				value = ""
 			flags[key] = value
 	return args, flags

def stripped(f):
 	"""Return an iterator over the strings in the iterable f in which
 	strings are stripped of #-delimited comments and leading and
 	trailing whitespace, and blank strings are skipped.

 	for line in f:
 		if ("#" in line): line = line[:line.index("#")]
 		line = line.strip()
 		if (line == ""): continue
 		yield line
 	raise StopIteration

As a bonus, you can say @foo or @ foo to mean "insert the lines contained 
in file foo in the command line here", which is handy if, say, you have a 
file containing a list of files to be processed, and you want to invoke a 
script to process them, or if you want to put some standard flags in a 
file and pull them in on the command line. Yes, you could use xargs for 
this, but this is a bit easier. If you don't want this, delete the elif 
block mentioning the @, and the stripped function. A slightly neater 
implementation not involving list.pop also then becomes possible.


Hit to death in the future head

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