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7. Automated Option Processing

AutoOpts 41.0 is bundled with AutoGen. It is a tool that virtually eliminates the hassle of processing options and keeping man pages, info docs and usage text up to date. This package allows you to specify several program attributes, thousands of option types and many option attributes. From this, it then produces all the code necessary to parse and handle the command line and configuration file options, and the documentation that should go with your program as well.

All the features notwithstanding, some applications simply have well-established command line interfaces. Even still, those programs may use the configuration file parsing portion of the library. See the “AutoOpts Features” and “Configuration File Format” sections.

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7.1 AutoOpts Features

AutoOpts supports option processing; option state saving; and program documentation with innumerable features. Here, we list a few obvious ones and some important ones, but the full list is really defined by all the attributes defined in the Option Definitions section.

  1. POSIX-compliant short (flag) option processing.
  2. GNU-style long options processing. Long options are recognized without case sensitivity, and they may be abbreviated.
  3. Environment variable initializations, See section environment variable presets.
  4. Initialization from configuration files (aka RC or INI files), and saving the option state back into one, See section configuration file presets.
  5. Config files may be partitioned. One config file may be used by several programs by partitioning it with lines containing, [PROGRAM_NAME] or <?program-name>, See section configuration file presets.
  6. Config files may contain AutoOpts directives. <?auto-options [[option-text]]> may be used to set AutoOpts option processing options. Viz., GNU usage layout versus AutoOpts conventional layout, and misuse-usage versus no-misuse-usage, See section Usage and Version Info Display.
  7. Options may be marked as dis-abled with a disablement prefix. Such options may default to either an enabled or a disabled state. You may also provide an enablement prefix, too, e.g., ‘--allow-mumble’ and ‘--prevent-mumble’ (see section Common Option Attributes).
  8. Verify that required options are present between the minimum and maximum number of times on the command line. Verify that conflicting options do not appear together. Verify that options requiring the presence of other options are, in fact, used in the presence of other options. See See section Common Option Attributes, and See section Option Conflict Attributes.
  9. There are several automatically supported options. They will have short flags if any options have option flags and the flags are not suppressed. The associated flag may be altered or suppressed by specifying no value or an alternate character for xxx-value; in the option definition file. xxx is the name of the option below:

    These are always available. ‘--more-help’ will pass the full usage text through a pager.


    This is added to the option list if usage-opt is specified. It yields the abbreviated usage to ‘stdout’.


    This is added to the option list if version = xxx; is specified.


    These are added to the option list if homerc is specified. Mostly. If, disable-save is specified, then ‘--save-opts’ is disabled.

  10. Various forms of main procedures can be added to the output, See section Generating main procedures. There are four basic forms:
    1. A program that processes the arguments and writes to standard out portable shell commands containing the digested options.
    2. A program that will generate portable shell commands to parse the defined options. The expectation is that this result will be copied into a shell script and used there.
    3. A for-each main that will invoke a named function once for either each non-option argument on the command line or, if there are none, then once for each non-blank, non-comment input line read from stdin.
    4. A main procedure of your own design. Its code can be supplied in the option description template or by incorporating another template.
  11. There are several methods for handling option arguments.
  12. The generated usage text can be emitted in either AutoOpts standard format (maximizing the information about each option), or GNU-ish normal form. The default form is selected by either specifying or not specifying the gnu-usage attribute (see section Program Information Attributes). This can be overridden by the user himself with the AUTOOPTS_USAGE environment variable. If it exists and is set to the string ‘gnu’, it will force GNU-ish style format; if it is set to the string ‘autoopts’, it will force AutoOpts standard format; otherwise, it will have no effect.
  13. The usage text and many other strings are stored in a single character array (see section string table functions). This reduces fixup costs when loading the program or library. The downside is that if GCC detects that any of these strings are used in a printf format, you may get the warning, embedded '\0' in format. To eliminate the warning, you must provide GCC with the ‘-Wno-format-contains-nul’ option.
  14. If you compile with ENABLE_NLS defined and _() defined to a localization function (e.g. gettext(3GNU)), then the option processing code will be localizable (see section Internationalizing AutoOpts). Provided also that you do not define the no-xlate attribute to anything (see section User Presentation Attributes).

    You should also ensure that the ATTRIBUTE_FORMAT_ARG() gets #define-ed to something useful. There is an autoconf macro named AG_COMPILE_FORMAT_ARG in ‘ag_macros.m4’ that will set it appropriately for you. If you do not do this, then translated formatting strings may trigger GCC compiler warnings.

  15. Provides a callable routine to parse a text string as if it were from one of the rc/ini/config files, hereafter referred to as a configuration file.
  16. By adding a ‘doc’ and ‘arg-name’ attributes to each option, AutoGen will also be able to produce a man page and the ‘invoking’ section of a texinfo document.
  17. Intermingled option processing. AutoOpts options may be intermingled with command line operands and options processed with other parsing techniques. This is accomplished by setting the allow-errors (see section Program Description Attributes) attribute. When processing reaches a point where optionProcess (see section optionProcess) needs to be called again, the current option can be set with RESTART_OPT(n) (see section RESTART_OPT( n ) - Resume Option Processing) before calling optionProcess.

    See: See section Options for Library Code.

  18. Library suppliers can specify command line options that their client programs will accept. They specify option definitions that get #include-d into the client option definitions and they specify an "anchor" option that has a callback and must be invoked. That will give the library access to the option state for their options.
  19. library options. An AutoOpt-ed library may export its options for use in an AutoOpt-ed program. This is done by providing an option definition file that client programs #include into their own option definitions. See “AutoOpt-ed Library for AutoOpt-ed Program” (see section AutoOpt-ed Library for AutoOpt-ed Program) for more details.

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7.2 AutoOpts Licensing

When AutoGen is installed, the AutoOpts project is installed with it. AutoOpts includes various AutoGen templates and a pair of shared libraries. These libraries may be used under the terms of version 3 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

One of these libraries (libopts) is needed by programs that are built using AutoOpts generated code. This library is available as a separate “tear-off” source tarball. It is redistributable for use under either of two licenses: The above mentioned GNU Lesser General Public License, and the advertising-clause-free BSD license. Both of these license terms are incorporated into appropriate COPYING files included with the libopts source tarball. This source may be incorporated into your package with the following simple commands:

rm -rf libopts libopts-*
gunzip -c `autoopts-config libsrc` | \
   tar -xvf -
mv libopts-*.*.* libopts

View the ‘libopts/README’ file for further integration information.

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7.3 Developer and User Notes

The formatting of the usage message can be controlled with the use of the AUTOOPTS_USAGE environment variable. If it contains any of five possible comma separated values, it will affect ‘libopts’ behavior. Any extraneous or conflicting data will cause its value to be ignored.

If the program attributes long-usage and short-usage have been specified (see section Usage and Version Info Display), these strings are used for displaying full usage and abbreviated usage. “Full usage” is used when usage is requested, “abbreviated usage” when a usage error is detected. If these strings are not provided, the usage text is computed.

The AUTOOPTS_USAGE environment variable may be set to the comma and/or white space separated list of the following strings:


Ignore the provision of long-usage and short-usage attributes, and compute the usage strings. This is useful, for example, if you wish to regenerate the basic form of these strings and either tweak them or translate them. The methods used to compute the usage text are not suitable for translation.


The format of the usage text will be displayed in GNU-normal form. The default display for ‘--version’ will be to include a note on licensing terms.


The format of the extended usage will be in AutoOpts’ native layout. The default version display will be one line of text with the last token the version. gnu and autoopts conflict and may not be used together.


When an option error is made on the command line, the abbreviated usage text will be suppressed. An error message and the method for getting full usage information will be displayed.


When an option error is made on the command line, the abbreviated usage text will be shown. misuse-usage and no-misuse-usage conflict and may not be used together.

misuse-usage and autoopts are the defaults. These defaults may be flipped to no-misuse-usage and gnu by specifying gnu-usage and no-misuse-usage program attributes, respectively, in the option definition file.

Note for developers:

The templates used to implement AutoOpts depend heavily upon token pasting. That mens that if you name an option, debug, for example, the generated header will expect to be able to emit #define macros such as this:

#define DESC(n) (autogenOptions.pOptDesc[INDEX_OPT_## n])

and expect DESC(DEBUG) to expand correctly into (autogenOptions.pOptDesc[INDEX_OPT_DEBUG]). If DEBUG is #defined to something else, then that something else will be in the above expansion.

If you discover you are having strange problems like this, you may wish to use some variation of the guard-option-names See section Program Description Attributes.

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7.4 Quick Start

Since it is generally easier to start with a simple example than it is to look at the options that AutoGen uses itself, here is a very simple AutoOpts example. You can copy this example out of the Info file and into a source file to try it. You can then embellish it into what you really need. For more extensive examples, you can also examine the help output and option definitions for the commands columns, getdefs and autogen itself.

If you are looking for a more extensive example, you may search the autogen sources for files named ‘*opts.def’. xml2ag is ridiculous and autogen is very lengthy, but columns and getdefs are not too difficult. The sharutils sources are fairly reasonable, too.

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7.4.1 Example option requirements

For our simple example, assume you have a program named check that takes two options:

  1. A list of directories to check over for whatever it is check does. You want this option available as a POSIX-style flag option and a GNU long option. You want to allow as many of these as the user wishes.
  2. An option to show or not show the definition tree being used. Only one occurrence is to be allowed, specifying one or the other.

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7.4.2 Example option definitions

First, specify your program attributes and its options to AutoOpts, as with the following example.

AutoGen Definitions options;
prog-name     = check;
prog-title    = "Checkout Automated Options";
gnu-usage;    /* GNU style preferred to default */

main = { main-type = shell-process; };

flag = {
    name      = check-dirs;
    value     = L;        /* flag style option character */
    arg-type  = string;   /* option argument indication  */
    max       = NOLIMIT;  /* occurrence limit (none)     */
    stack-arg;            /* save opt args in a stack    */
    descrip   = "Checkout directory list";
    doc       = 'name of each directory that is to be "checked out".';

flag = {
    name      = show_defs;
    descrip   = "Show the definition tree";
    disable   = dont;     /* mark as enable/disable type */
                          /* option.  Disable as `dont-' */
    doc       = 'disable, if you do not want to see the tree.';

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7.4.3 Build the example options

This program will produce a program that digests its options and writes the values as shell script code to stdout. Run the following short script to produce this program:

BASE=`echo $base | tr '[a-z-]' '[A-Z_]'`
cflags="-DTEST_${BASE} `autoopts-config cflags`"
ldflags="`autoopts-config ldflags`"
autogen ${base}.def
cc -o ${base} -g ${cflags} ${base}.c ${ldflags}
./${base} --help

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7.4.4 Example option help text

Running the build commands yields:

exit 0

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7.4.5 Using the example options

Normally, however, you would not use the main clause. Instead, the file would be named something like ‘checkopt.def’, you would compile ‘checkopt.c’ the usual way, and link the object with the rest of your program.

The options are processed by calling optionProcess (see section optionProcess):

main( int argc, char** argv )
    int optct = optionProcess( &checkOptions, argc, argv );
    argc -= optct;
    argv += optct;

The options are tested and used as in the following fragment. ENABLED_OPT is used instead of HAVE_OPT for the ‘--show-defs’ option because it is an enabled/disabled option type:

     && HAVE_OPT( CHECK_DIRS )) {
    int    dirct = STACKCT_OPT( CHECK_DIRS );
    char** dirs  = STACKLST_OPT( CHECK_DIRS );
    while (dirct-- > 0) {
      char* dir = *dirs++;

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7.4.6 Example option documentation

The doc clauses are used in the flag stanzas for man pages and texinfo invoking documentation. With the definition file described above, the two following commands will produce the two documentation files ‘check.1’ and ‘invoke-check.texi’. The latter file will be generated as a chapter, rather than a section or subsection.

autogen -Tagman-cmd check.def
autogen -DLEVEL=chapter -Tagtexi-cmd -binvoke-check.texi check.def

The result of which is left as an exercise for the reader.

A lot of magic happens to make this happen. The rest of this chapter will describe the myriad of option attributes supported by AutoOpts. However, keep in mind that, in general, you won’t need much more than what was described in this "quick start" section.

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7.5 Option Definitions

AutoOpts uses an AutoGen definitions file for the definitions of the program options and overall configuration attributes. The complete list of program and option attributes is quite extensive, so if you are reading to understand how to use AutoOpts, I recommend reading the "Quick Start" section (see section Quick Start) and paying attention to the following:

  1. prog-name, prog-title, and argument, program attributes, See section Program Description Attributes.
  2. name and descrip option attributes, See section Required Attributes.
  3. value (flag character) and min (occurrence counts) option attributes, See section Common Option Attributes.
  4. arg-type from the option argument specification section, See section Option Argument Specification.
  5. Read the overall how to, See section Using AutoOpts.
  6. Highly recommended, but not required, are the several "man" and "info" documentation attributes, See section Man and Info doc Attributes.

Keep in mind that the majority are rarely used and can be safely ignored. However, when you have special option processing requirements, the flexibility is there.

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7.5.1 Program Description Attributes

The following global definitions are used to define attributes of the entire program. These generally alter the configuration or global behavior of the AutoOpts option parser. The first two are required of every program. The third is required if there are to be any left over arguments (operands) after option processing. The rest have been grouped below. Except as noted, there may be only one copy of each of these definitions:


This attribute is required. Variable names derived from this name are derived using string->c_name! (see section string->c-name!’ - map non-name chars to underscore).


This attribute is required and may be any descriptive text.


This attribute is required if your program uses operand arguments. It specifies the syntax of the arguments that follow the options. It may not be empty, but if it is not supplied, then option processing must consume all the arguments. If it is supplied and starts with an open bracket ([), then there is no requirement on the presence or absence of command line arguments following the options. Lastly, if it is supplied and does not start with an open bracket, then option processing must not consume all of the command line arguments.


If your build has a configuration header, it must be included before anything else. Specifying the configuration header file name with this attribute will cause that to happen.

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These will affect the way usage is seen and whether or not version information gets displayed.


If this attribute is provided, it may specify the full length usage text, or a variable name assignable to a char const * pointer, or it may be empty. The meanings are determined by the length.

This string should be readily translatable. Provision will be made to translate it if this is provided, if the source code is compiled with ENABLE_NLS defined, and no-xlate has not been set to the value anything. The untranslated text will be handed to dgettext("libopts", txt) and then gettext(txt) for translation, one paragraph at a time.

To facilitate the creation and maintenance of this text, you can force the string to be ignored and recomputed by specifying


in the environment and requesting help or usage information. See See section Developer and User Notes.


If this attribute is provided, it is used to specify an abbreviated version of the usage text. This text is constructed in the same way as the full-usage, described above.


AutoOpts normaly displays usage text in a format that provides more information than the standard GNU layout, but that also means it is not the standard GNU layout. This attribute changes the default to GNU layout, with the AUTOOPTS_USAGE environment variable used to request autoopts layout. See See section Developer and User Notes.


I apologize for too many confusing usages of usage. This attribute specifies that ‘--usage’ and/or ‘-u’ be supported. The help (usage) text displayed will be abbreviated when compared to the default help text.


When there is a command line syntax error, by default AutoOpts will display the abbreviated usage text, rather than just a one line “you goofed it, ask for usage” message. You can change the default behavior for your program by supplying this attribute. The user may override this choice, again, with the AUTOOPTS_USAGE environment variable. See See section Developer and User Notes.


The version text in the ‘getopt.tpl’ template will include this text in parentheses after the program name, when this attribute is specified. For example:

mumble (stumble) 1.0

says that the ‘mumble’ program is version 1.0 and is part of the ‘stumble’ group of programs.


If your program has some cleanup work that must be done before exiting on usage mode issues, or if you have to customize the usage message in some way, specify this procedure and it will be called instead of the default optionUsage() function. For example, if a program is using the curses library and needs to invoke the usage display, then you must arrange to call endwin() before invoking the library function optionUsage(). This can be handled by specifying your own usage function, thus:

my_usage(tOptions * opts, int ex)
    if (curses_window_active)
    optionUsage(opts, ex);

Specifies the program version and activates the VERSION option, See section Automatically Supported Options.

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Programs may be “pre-configured” before normal command line options are processed (See see section Immediate Action Attributes). How configuration files and environment variables are handled get specified with these attributes.


Indicates that the command line usage of ‘--load-opts’ and/or ‘--save-opts’ are disallowed.


Indicates looking in the environment for values of variables named, PROGRAM_OPTNAME or PROGRAM, where PROGRAM is the upper cased C-name of the program and ‘OPTNAME’ is the upper cased C-name of a specific option. The contents of the PROGRAM variable, if found, are tokenized and processed. The contents of PROGRAM_OPTNAME environment variables are taken as the option argument to the option nameed ‘--optname’.


Specifies that option settings may be loaded from and stored into configuration files. Each instance of this attribute is either a directory or a file using a specific path, a path based on an environment variable or a path relative to installation directories. The method used depends on the name. If the one entry is empty, it enables the loading and storing of settings, but no specific files are searched for. Otherwise, a series of configuration files are hunted down and, if found, loaded.

If the first character of the ‘homerc’ value is not the dollar character ($), then it is presumed to be a path name based on the current directory. Otherwise, the method depends on the second character:


The path is relative to the directory where the executable was found.


The path is relative to the package data directory, e.g. ‘/usr/local/share/autogen’.


The path is derived from the named environment variable.

Use as many as you like. The presence of this attribute activates the ‘--save-opts’ and ‘--load-opts’ options. However, saving into a file may be disabled with the ‘disable-save’. See section configuration file presets. See the optionMakePath(3AGEN) man page for excruciating details.


Specifies the configuration file name. This is only useful if you have provided at least one homerc attribute.

default: .<prog-name>rc

This option implements the ‘-W’ vendor option command line option.

For POSIX specified utilities, the options are constrained to the options that are specified by POSIX. Extensions should be handled with ‘-W’ command line options, the short flag form. Long option name processing must be disabled. In fact, the long-opts attribute must not be provided, and some options must be specified without flag values.

The ‘-W long-name’ is processed by looking up the long option name that follows it. It cannot be a short flag because that would conflict with the POSIX flag name space. It will be processed as if long options were accepted and ‘--long-name’ were found on the command line.

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These attributes affect some of the ways that the option data are used and made available to the program.


The contents of this attribute should be just the name of the configuration file. A "#include" naming this file will be inserted at the top of the generated header.


These values should be defined as indexed values, thus:

exit-name[0] = success;
exit-desc[0] = 'Successful program execution.';
exit-name[1] = failure;
exit-desc[1] = 'The operation failed or command syntax was not valid.';

By default, all programs have these effectively defined for them. They may be overridden by explicitly defining any or all of these values. Additional names and descriptions may be defined. They will cause an enumeration to be emitted, like this one for getdefs:

typedef enum {
} getdefs_exit_code_t;

which will be augmented by any exit-name definitions beyond ‘1’.

Some of the generated code will exit non-zero if there is an allocation error. This exit will always be code ‘1’, unless there is an exit named ‘no_mem’ or ‘nomem’. In that case, that value will be used. Additionally, if there is such a value, and if die-code is specified, then a function nomem_err(size_t len, char const * what) will be emitted as an inline function for reporting out-of-memory conditions.


This attribute will cause two procedures to be added to the code file: usage_message() and vusage_message(), with any applicable prefix (see prefix, below). They are declared in the generated header, thus:

extern void vusage_message(char const * fmt, va_list ap);
extern void usage_message(char const * fmt, ...);

These functions print the message to ‘stderr’ and invoke the usage function with the exit code set to 1 (EXIT_FAILURE).


This tells AutoOpts templates to emit code for vdie(), die(), fserr(), and, possibly the nomem_err() functions. The latter is emitted if an exit name of ‘no-mem’ or ‘nomem’ is specified. If the die-code is assigned a text value, then that code will be inserted in the vdie function immediately before it prints the death rattle message.

The profiles for these functions are:

extern void vdie( int exit_code, char const * fmt, va_list);
extern void die(  int exit_code, char const * fmt, ...);
extern void fserr(int exit_code, char const * op, char const * fname);
static inline void
nomem_err(size_t sz, char const * what) {...}

If usage-message or die-code are specified, you may also specify that the generated functions are marked as “noreturn” with this attribute. If this attribute is not empty, then the specified string is used instead of “noreturn”. If “noreturn” has not been defined before these functions are declared, then it will be “#define”-d to the empty string. No such protection is made for any non-default value. These functions will be declared “extern noreturn void”.


This string is inserted into the .h interface file. Generally used for global variables or #include directives required by flag-code text and shared with other program text. Do not specify your configuration header (‘config.h’) in this attribute or the include attribute, however. Instead, use config-header, above.


AutoOpts generates macros that presume that there are no cpp macros with the same name as the option name. For example, if you have an option named, ‘--debug’, then you must not use #ifdef DEBUG in your code. If you specify this attribute, every option name will be guarded. If the name is #define-d, then a warning will be issued and the name undefined. If you do not specify this and there is a conflict, you will get strange error messages.

This attribute may be set to any of four recognized states:


This string is inserted into the .c file. Generally used for global variables required only by flag-code program text.


If you are going to handle your option processing with the ‘getopt.tpl’ template instead of using libopts, then specify this attribute. It will suppress mention of ‘--more-help’ in the generated documentation. (getopt_long does not support ‘--more-help’.)


This value is inserted into all global names. This will disambiguate them if more than one set of options are to be compiled into a single program.

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Attributes that affect the user’s experience.


The presence of this attribute indicates ignoring any command line option errors. This may also be turned on and off by invoking the macros ERRSKIP_OPTERR and ERRSTOP_OPTERR from the generated interface file.


Presence indicates GNU-standard long option processing. Partial name matches are accepted, if they are at least two characters long and the partial match is unique. The matching is not case sensitive, and the underscore, hyphen and carat characters are all equivalent (they match).

If any options do not have an option value (flag character) specified, and least one does specify such a value, then you must specify long-opts. If none of your options specify an option value (flag character) and you do not specify long-opts, then command line arguments are processed in "named option mode". This means that:


Modifies when or whether option names get translated. If provided, it must be assigned one of these values:


to suppress option name translation for configuration file and and environment variable processing.


to suppress option name translation completely. The usage text will always be translated if ENABLE_NLS is defined and you have translations for that text.


Specifies disabling all internationalization support for option code, completely.

See also the various XLAT interface entries in the AutoOpts Programmatic Interface section (see section Programmatic Interface).


Normally, POSIX compliant commands do not allow for options to be interleaved with operands. If this is necessary for historical reasons, there are two approaches available:


Specifies that the ‘--reset-option’ command line option is to be supported. This makes it possible to suppress any setting that might be found in a configuration file or environment variable.

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7.5.2 Options for Library Code

Some libraries provide their own code for processing command line options, and this may be used by programs that utilize AutoOpts. You may also wish to write a library that gets configured with AutoOpts options and config files. Such a library may either supply its own configury routine and process its own options, or it may export its option descriptions to programs that also use AutoOpts. This section will describe how to do all of these different things.

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The library source code must provide an option definition file that consists of only the attribute library and flag entries. The library attribute does not need any associated value, so it will generally appeary by itself on a line folowed by a semi-colon. The first flag entry must contain the following attributes:


This name is used in the construction of a global pointer of type tOptDesc const*. It is always required.


It tells AutoOpts that this option serves no normal purpose. It will be used to add usage clarity and to locate option descriptors in the library code.


This is a string that is inserted in the extended usage display before the options specific to the current library. It is always required.


This should match the name of the library. This string is also used in the construction of the option descriptor pointer name. In the end, it looks like this:

extern tOptDesc const* <<lib-name>>_<<name>>_optDesc_p;

and is used in the macros generated for the library’s ‘.h’ file.

In order to compile this AutoOpts using library, you must create a special header that is not used by the client program. This is accomplished by creating an option definition file that contains essentially exactly the following:

AutoGen definitions options;
prog-name  = does-not-matter;  // but is always required
prog-title = 'also does not matter';  // also required
config-header = 'config.h'; // optional, but common
#include library-options-only.def

and nothing else. AutoGen will produce only the ‘.h’ file. You may now compile your library, referencing just this ‘.h’ file. The macros it creates will utilize a global variable that will be defined by the AutoOpts-using client program. That program will need to have the following #include in its option definition file:

#include library-options-only.def

All the right things will magically happen so that the global variables named <<lib-name>>_<<name>>_optDesc_p are initialized correctly. For an example, please see the AutoOpts test script: ‘autoopts/test/library.test’.

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In this case, your library must provide an option processing function to a calling program. This is accomplished by setting the allow-errors global option attribute. Each time your option handling function is called, you must determine where your scan is to resume and tell the AutoOpts library by invoking:


and then invoke not_opt_index = optionProcess(...). The not_opt_index value can be used to set optind, if that is the global being used to scan the program argument array.

In this method, do NOT utilize the global library attribute. Your library must specify its options as if it were a complete program. You may choose to specify an alternate usage() function so that usage for other parts of the option interface may be displayed as well. See “Program Information Attributes” (see section Program Information Attributes).

At the moment, there is no method for calling optionUsage() telling it to produce just the information about the options and not the program as a whole. Some later revision after somebody asks.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] AutoOpt-ed Program Calls Regular Library

As with providing an AutoOpt-ed library to a non-AutoOpt-ed program, you must write the option description file as if you were writing all the options for the program, but you should specify the allow-errors global option attribute and you will likely want an alternate usage() function (see “Program Information Attributes” see section Program Information Attributes). In this case, though, when optionProcess() returns, you need to test to see if there might be library options. If there might be, then call the library’s exported routine for handling command line options, set the next-option-to-process with the RESTART_OPT() macro, and recall optionProcess(). Repeat until done.

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7.5.3 Program Information Attributes

These attributes are used to define how and what information is displayed to the user of the program.


The copyright is a structured value containing three to five values. If copyright is used, then the first three are required.

  1. date’ - the list of applicable dates for the copyright.
  2. owner’ - the name of the copyright holder.
  3. type’ - specifies the type of distribution license. AutoOpts/AutoGen supports the text of the GNU Public License (‘gpl’), the GNU Lesser General Public License with Library extensions (‘lgpl’), the Modified Free BSD license (‘mbsd’) and a few others. Other licenses may be specified, but you must provide your own license file. The list of license files provided by AutoOpts may be seen by typing:
    ls $(autoopts-config pkgdatadir)/*.lic
  4. text’ - the text of the copyright notice. This must be provided if ‘type’ is set to ‘NOTE’.
  5. author’ - in case the author name is to appear in the documentation and is different from the copyright owner.
  6. eaddr’ - email address for receiving praises and complaints. Typically that of the author or copyright holder.

An example of this might be:

copyright = {
    date  = "1992-2012";
    owner = "Bruce Korb";
    eaddr = 'bkorb@gnu.org';
    type  = GPL;

This string is added to the usage output when the HELP option is selected.


Gives additional information whenever the usage routine is invoked.


The name of the package the program belongs to. This will appear parenthetically after the program name in the version and usage output, e.g.: autogen (GNU autogen) - The Automated Program Generator.


This attribute will not change anything except appearance. Normally, the option names are all documented in lower case. However, if you specify this attribute, then they will display in the case used in their specification. Command line options will still be matched without case sensitivity. This is useful for specifying option names in camel-case.

prog-desc and

These define global pointer variables that point to the program descriptor and the first option descriptor for a library option. This is intended for use by certain libraries that need command line and/or initialization file option processing. These definitions have no effect on the option template output, but are used for creating a library interface file. Normally, the first "option" for a library will be a documentation option that cannot be specified on the command line, but is marked as settable. The library client program will invoke the SET_OPTION macro which will invoke a handler function that will finally set these global variables.


Optionally names the usage procedure, if the library routine optionUsage() does not work for you. If you specify my_usage as the value of this attribute, for example, you will use a procedure by that name for displaying usage. Of course, you will need to provide that procedure and it must conform to this profile:

void my_usage( tOptions* pOptions, int exitCode )

Normally, the default format produced by the optionUsage procedure is AutoOpts Standard. By specifying this attribute, the default format will be GNU-ish style. Either default may be overridden by the user with the AUTOOPTS_USAGE environment variable. If it is set to gnu or autoopts, it will alter the style appropriately. This attribute will conflict with the usage attribute.


Some applications traditionally require that the command operands be intermixed with the command options. In order to handle that, the arguments must be reordered. If you are writing such an application, specify this global option. All of the options (and any associated option arguments) will be brought to the beginning of the argument list. New applications should not use this feature, if at all possible. This feature is disabled if POSIXLY_CORRECT is defined in the environment.

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7.5.4 Generating main procedures

When AutoOpts generates the code to parse the command line options, it has the ability to produce any of several types of main() procedures. This is done by specifying a global structured value for main. The values that it contains are dependent on the value set for the one value it must have: main-type.

The recognized values for main-type are guile, shell-process, shell-parser, main, include, invoke, and for-each.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] guile: main and inner_main procedures

When the main-type is specified to be guile, a main() procedure is generated that calls gh_enter(), providing it with a generated inner_main() to invoke. If you must perform certain tasks before calling gh_enter(), you may specify such code in the value for the before-guile-boot attribute.

The inner_main() procedure itself will process the command line arguments (by calling optionProcess(), see section optionProcess), and then either invoke the code specified with the guile-main attribute, or else export the parsed options to Guile symbols and invoke the scm_shell() function from the Guile library. This latter will render the program nearly identical to the stock guile(1) program.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] shell-process: emit Bourne shell results

This will produce a main() procedure that parses the command line options and emits to ‘stdout’ Bourne shell commands that puts the option state into environment variables. This can be used within a shell script as follows:

eval "`opt_parser \"$@\"`"
test ${OPTION_CT} -gt 0 && shift ${OPTION_CT}

If the option parsing code detects an error or a request for usage or version, it will emit a command to exit with an appropriate exit code to ‘stdout’. This form of main will cause all messages, including requested usage and version information, to be emitted to ‘stderr’. Otherwise, a numeric value for OPTION_CT is guaranteed to be emitted, along with assignments for all the options parsed, something along the lines of the following will be written to ‘stdout’ for evaluation:

export OPTION_CT

If the arguments are to be reordered, however, then the resulting set of operands will be emitted and OPTION_CT will be set to zero. For example, the following would be appended to the above:

set -- 'operand1' 'operand2' 'operand3'

OPTION_CT is set to zero since it is not necessary to shift off any options.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] shell-parser: emit Bourne shell script

This will produce a main() procedure that emits a shell script that will parse the command line options. That script can be emitted to ‘stdout’ or inserted or substituted into a pre-existing shell script file. Improbable markers are used to identify previously inserted parsing text:

# # # # # # # # # # -- do not modify this marker --

The program is also pretty insistent upon starting its parsing script on the second line.

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You must supply a value for the main-text attribute. You may also supply a value for option-code. If you do, then the optionProcess invocation will not be emitted into the code. AutoOpts will wrap the main-text inside of:

main( int argc, char** argv )
    int res = <<success-exit-code>>;
    { // replaced by option-code, if that exists
        int ct = optionProcess( &<<prog-name>>Options, argc, argv);
        argc -= ct;
        argv += ct;
    return res;

so you can most conveniently set the value with a here string (see section A Here String):

code = <<- _EndOfMainProc_
	<<your text goes here>>

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] include: code emitted from included template

You must write a template to produce your main procedure. You specify the name of the template with the tpl attribute and it will be incorporated at the point where AutoOpts is ready to emit the main() procedure.

This can be very useful if, in your working environment, you have many programs with highly similar main() procedures. All you need to do is parameterize the variations and specify which variant is needed within the main AutoOpts specification. Since you are coding the template for this, the attributes needed for this variation would be dictated by your template.

Here is an example of an include variation:

main = {
  main-type = include;
  tpl       = "main-template.tpl";

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] invoke: code emitted from AutoGen macro

You must write a template to produce your main procedure. That template must contain a definition for the function specified with the func attribute to this main() procedure specification. This variation operates in much the same way as include (see section include: code emitted from included template) method.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] for-each: perform function on each operand

This produces a main procedure that invokes a procedure once for each operand on the command line (non-option arguments), OR once for each non-blank, non-comment stdin input line. Leading and trailing white space is trimmed from the input line and comment lines are lines that are empty or begin with a comment character, defaulting to a hash (’#’) character.

NB: The argument program attribute (see section Program Description Attributes) must begin with the [ character, to indicate that there are command operands, but that they are optional.

For an example of the produced main procedure, in the ‘autoopts/test’ build directory, type the following command and look at ‘main.c’:

make verbose TESTS=main.test

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procedure to handle each argument

This attribute is required. It is used to name the procedure to call. That procedure is presumed to be external, but if you provide the code for it, then the procedure is emitted as a static procedure in the generated code.

This procedure should return 0 on success, a cumulative error code on warning and exit without returning on an unrecoverable error. As the cumulative warning codes are or-ed together, the codes should be some sort of bit mask in order to be ultimately decipherable (if you need to do that).

If the called procedure needs to cause a fail-exit, it is expected to call exit(3) directly. If you want to cause a warning exit code, then this handler function should return a non-zero status. That value will be OR-ed into a result integer for computing the final exit code. E.g., here is part of the emitted code:

  int res = 0;
  if (argc > 0) {
     do  {
         res |= my_handler( *(argv++) );
     } while (--argc > 0);
  } else { ...

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handler procedure type

If you do not supply this attribute, your handler procedure must be the default type. The profile of the procedure must be:

int my_handler(char const * pz_entry);

However, if you do supply this attribute, you may set the value to any of four alternate flavors:


This is essentially the same as the default handler type, except that before your procedure is invoked, the generated code has verified that the string names an existing file. The profile is unchanged.


Before calling your procedure, the file is f-opened according to the X, where X may be any of the legal modes for fopen(3C). In this case, the profile for your procedure must be:

int my_handler(char const * pz_fname, FILE * entry_fp);

When processing inputs as file pointer stream files, there are several ways of treating standard input. It may be an ordinary input file, or it may contain a list of files to operate on.

If the file handler type is more specifically set to ‘file-r’ and a command line operand consists of a single hyphen, then my_handler will be called with entry_fp set to stdin and the pz_fname set to the translatable string, "standard input". Consequently, in this case, if the input list is being read from stdin, a line containing a hyphen by itself will be ignored.


This attribute specifies that standard input is a data input file. By default, for-each main procedures will read standard input for operands if no operands appear on the command line. If there are operands after the command line options, then standard input is typically ignored. It can always be processed as an input data file, however, if a single bare hyphen is put on the command line.


Before calling your procedure, the contents of the file are read or mapped into memory. (Excessively large files may cause problems.) The ‘some-text-of-file’ disallows empty files. Both require regular files. In this case, the profile for your procedure must be:

my_handler(char const* pz_fname, char* file_text,
           size_t text_size);

Note that though the file_text is not const, any changes made to it are not written back to the original file. It is merely a memory image of the file contents. Also, the memory allocated to hold the text is text_size + 1 bytes long and the final byte is always NUL. The file contents need not be text, as the data are read with the read(2) system call.

If you select one of these file type handlers, then on access or usage errors the PROGRAM_EXIT_FAILURE exit code will, by default, be or-ed into the final exit code. This can be changed by specifying the global file-fail-code attribute and naming a different value. That is, something other than failure. You may choose success, in which case file access issues will not affect the exit code and the error message will not be printed.

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code for handler procedure

With this attribute, you provide the code for your handler procedure in the option definition file. In this case, your main() procedure specification might look something like this:

main = {
  main-type    = for-each;
  handler-proc = my_handler;
  my_handler-code = <<- EndOfMyCode
	/* whatever you want to do */

and instead of an emitted external reference, a procedure will be emitted that looks like this:

static int
my_handler( char const* pz_entry )
    int res = 0;
    <<my_handler-code goes here>>
    return res;

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for-each main procedure options

These attributes affect the main procedure and how it processes each argument or input line.


If this attribute is specified, then options and operands may be interleaved. Arguments or input lines beginning with a hyphen will cause it to be passed through to an option processing function and will take effect for the remainder of the operands (or input lines) processed.


This is code that gets inserted after the options have been processed, but before the handler procs get invoked.


This is code that gets inserted after all the entries have been processed, just before returning from main().


When reading operands from standard input, if you wish comment lines to start with a character other than a hash (#) character, then specify one character with this attribute. If string value is empty, then only blank lines will be considered comments.

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7.5.5 Option Attributes

For each option you wish to specify, you must have a block macro named flag defined. There are two required attributes: name and descrip. If any options do not have a value (traditional flag character) attribute, then the long-opts program attribute must also be defined. As a special exception, if no options have a value and long-opts is not defined and argument is not defined, then all arguments to the program are named options. In this case, the ‘-’ and ‘--’ command line option markers are optional.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Required Attributes

Every option must have exactly one copy of both of these attributes.


Long name for the option. Even if you are not accepting long options and are only accepting flags, it must be provided. AutoOpts generates private, named storage that requires this name. This name also causes a #define-d name to be emitted. It must not conflict with any other names you may be using in your program.

For example, if your option name is, debug or munged-up, you must not use the #define names DEBUG (or MUNGED_UP) in your program for non-AutoOpts related purposes. They are now used by AutoOpts.

Sometimes (most especially under Windows), you may get a surprise. For example, INTERFACE is apparently a user space name that one should be free to use. Windows usurps this name. To solve this, you must do one of the following:

  1. Change the name of your option
  2. add the program attribute (see section Program Description Attributes):
    export = '#undef INTERFACE';
  3. add the program attribute:

Except for documentation options, a very brief description of the option. About 40 characters on one line, maximum, not counting any texinfo markups. Texinfo markups are stripped before printing in the usage text. It appears on the usage() output next to the option name.

If, however, the option is a documentation option, it will appear on one or more lines by itself. It is thus used to visually separate and comment upon groups of options in the usage text.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Common Option Attributes

These option attributes are optional. Any that do appear in the definition of a flag, may appear only once.


The flag character to specify for traditional option flags, e.g., ‘-L’.


Maximum occurrence count (invalid if disable present). The default maximum is 1. NOLIMIT can be used for the value, otherwise it must be a number or a #define that evaluates to a number.


Minimum occurrence count. If present, then the option must appear on the command line. Do not define it with the value zero (0).


If an option must be specified, but it need not be specified on the command line, then specify this attribute for the option.


There are two effects to this attribute: the usage text will not show the option, and the generated documentation will mark it with: NOTE: THIS OPTION IS DEPRECATED.


Prefix for disabling (inverting sense of) the option. Only useful if long option names are being processed. When an option has this attribute, the test ENABLED_OPT(OPTNAME) is false when either of the following is true:

To detect that the option has been specified with the disabling prefix, you must use:


Long-name prefix for enabling the option (invalid if disable not present). Only useful if long option names are being processed.


If default is for option being enabled. (Otherwise, the OPTST_DISABLED bit is set at compile time.) Only useful if the option can be disabled.


If an option is relevant on certain platforms or when certain features are enabled or disabled, you can specify the compile time flag used to indicate when the option should be compiled in or out. For example, if you have a configurable feature, mumble that is indicated with the compile time define, WITH_MUMBLING, then add:


Take care when using these. There are several caveats:


This option specifies that the option is not allowed on the command line. Such an option may not take a value (flag character) attribute. The program must have the homerc (see section Program Description Attributes) option set.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Immediate Action Attributes

Certain options may need to be processed early. For example, in order to suppress the processing of configuration files, it is necessary to process the command line option ‘--no-load-optsbefore the config files are processed. To accommodate this, certain options may have their enabled or disabled forms marked for immediate processing. The consequence of this is that they are processed ahead of all other options in the reverse of normal order.

Normally, the first options processed are the options specified in the first homerc file, followed by then next homerc file through to the end of config file processing. Next, environment variables are processed and finally, the command line options. The later options override settings processed earlier. That actually gives them higher priority. Command line immediate action options actually have the lowest priority of all. They would be used only if they are to have an effect on the processing of subsequent options.


Use this option attribute to specify that the enabled form of the option is to be processed immediately. The help and more-help options are so specified. They will also call exit() upon completion, so they do have an effect on the processing of the remaining options :-).


Use this option attribute to specify that the disabled form of the option is to be processed immediately. The load-opts option is so specified. The ‘--no-load-opts’ command line option will suppress the processing of config files and environment variables. Contrariwise, the ‘--load-opts’ command line option is processed normally. That means that the options specified in that file will be processed after all the homerc files and, in fact, after options that precede it on the command line.


If either the immediate or the immed-disable attributes are set to the string, also, then the option will actually be processed twice: first at the immediate processing phase and again at the normal time.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Option Conflict Attributes

These attributes may be used as many times as you need. They are used at the end of the option processing to verify that the context within which each option is found does not conflict with the presence or absence of other options.

This is not a complete cover of all possible conflicts and requirements, but it simple to implement and covers the more common situations.


one entry for every option that must be present when this option is present


one entry for every option that cannot be present when this option is present

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Program may set option

If the option can be set outside of option processing, specify settable. If this attribute is defined, special macros for setting this particular option will be inserted into the interface file. For example, TEMPL_DIRS is a settable option for AutoGen, so a macro named SET_OPT_TEMPL_DIRS(a) appears in the interface file. This attribute interacts with the documentation attribute.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Option cannot be pre-configured

If presetting this option is not allowed, specify no-preset. (Thus, environment variables and values set in configuration files will be ignored.)

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Option Equivalence Class

Generally, when several options are mutually exclusive and basically serve the purpose of selecting one of several processing modes, specify the equivalence attribute. These options will be considered an equivalence class. Sometimes, it is just easier to deal with them as such. All members of the equivalence class must contain the same equivalenced-to option, including the equivalenced-to option itself. Thus, it must be a class member.

For an option equivalence class, there is a single occurrence counter for the class. It can be referenced with the interface macro, COUNT_OPT(BASE_OPTION), where BASE_OPTION is the equivalenced-to option name.

Also, please take careful note: since the options are mapped to the equivalenced-to option descriptor, any option argument values are mapped to that descriptor also. Be sure you know which “equivalent option” was selected before getting an option argument value!

During the presetting phase of option processing (see section Configuring your program), equivalenced options may be specified. However, if different equivalenced members are specified, only the last instance will be recognized and the others will be discarded. A conflict error is indicated only when multiple different members appear on the command line itself.

As an example of where equivalenced options might be useful, cpio(1) has three options ‘-o’, ‘-i’, and ‘-p’ that define the operational mode of the program (create, extract and pass-through, respectively). They form an equivalence class from which one and only one member must appear on the command line. If cpio were an AutoOpt-ed program, then each of these option definitions would contain:

equivalence = create;

and the program would be able to determine the operating mode with code that worked something like this:

case INDEX_OPT_CREATE:       ...
case INDEX_OPT_EXTRACT:      ...
default:    /* cannot happen */

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Option Aliasing

Sometimes, for backwards compatibility or tradition or just plain convenience, it works better to define one option as a pure alias for another option. For such situations, provide the following pieces of information:

flag = {
   name  = aliasing-option-name;
   value = aliasing-flag-char; // optional !
   aliases = aliased-to-option;

Do not provide anything else. The usage text for such an option will be:

   This is an alias for aliased-to-option

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Default Option

If your program processes its arguments in named option mode (See long-opts in Program Description Attributes), then you may select one of your options to be the default option. Do so by using attribute default with one of the options. The option so specified must have an arg-type (see section Option Argument Specification) specified, but not the arg-optional (see section Option Argument Optional) attribute. That is to say, the option argument must be required.

If you have done this, then any arguments that do not match an option name and do not contain an equal sign (=) will be interpreted as an option argument to the default option.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Option Sectioning Comment

This attribute means the option exists for the purpose of separating option description text in the usage output and texi documentation. Without this attribute, every option is a separate node in the texi docs. With this attribute, the documentation options become texi doc nodes and the options are collected under them. Choose the name attribute carefully because it will appear in the texi documentation.

Libraries may also choose to make it settable so that the library can determine which command line option is the first one that pertains to the library.

If the ‘documentation’ attribute is present, then all other attributes are disabled except settable, call-proc and flag-code. settable must be and is only specified if call-proc, extract-code or flag-code has been specified. When present, the descrip attribute will be displayed only when the ‘--help’ option has been specified. It will be displayed flush to the left hand margin and may consist of one or more lines of text, filled to 72 columns.

The name of the option will not be printed in the help text. It will, however, be printed as section headers in the texi documentation. If the attribute is given a non-empty value, this text will be reproduced in the man page and texi doc immediately after the descrip text.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Translator Notes

If you need to give the translators a special note about a particular option, please use the translators attribute. The attribute text will be emitted into the generated .c text where the option related strings get defined. To make a general comment about all of the option code, add comments to an include attribute (see section Program Description Attributes). Do not use this attribute globally, or it will get emitted into every option definition block.

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7.5.6 Option Argument Specification

Command line options come in three flavors: options that do not take arguments, those that do and those that may. Without an "arg-type" attribute, AutoOpts will not process an argument to an option. If "arg-type" is specified and "arg-optional" is also specified, then the next command line token will be taken to be an argument, unless it looks like the name of another option.

If the argument type is specified to be anything other than "str[ing]", then AutoOpts will specify a callback procedure to handle the argument. Some of these procedures will be created and inserted into the generated ‘.c’ file, and others are already built into the ‘libopts’ library. Therefore, if you write your own callback procedure (see section Option Argument Handling), then you must either not specify an "arg-type" attribute, or else specify it to be of type "str[ing]". Your callback function will be able to place its own restrictions on what that string may contain or represent.

Option argument handling attributes depend upon the value set for the arg-type attribute. It specifies the type of argument the option will take. If not present, the option cannot take an argument. If present, it must be an entry in the following table. The first three letters is sufficient.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type String

arg-type = string;

The argument may be any arbitrary string, though your program or option callback procedure may place additional constraints upon it.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Number

arg-type = number;

The argument must be a correctly formed integer, without any trailing U’s or L’s. AutoOpts contains a library procedure to convert the string to a number. If you specify range checking with arg-range (see below), then AutoOpts produces a special purpose procedure for this option.


scaled marks the option so that suffixes of ‘k’, ‘K’, ‘m’, ‘M’, ‘g’, ‘G’, ‘t’, and ‘T’ will multiply the given number by a power of 1000 or 1024. Lower case letters scale by a power of 1000 and upper case scale by a power of 1024.


arg-range is used to create a callback procedure for validating the range of the option argument. It must match one of the range entries. Each arg-range should consist of either an integer by itself or an integer range. The integer range is specified by one or two integers separated by the two character sequence, ->. Be sure to quote the entire range string. The definitions parser will not accept the range syntax as a single string token.

The generated procedure imposes the range constraints as follows:

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Boolean

arg-type = boolean;

The argument will be interpreted and always yield either AG_TRUE or AG_FALSE. False values are the empty string, the number zero, or a string that starts with f, F, n or N (representing False or No). Anything else will be interpreted as True.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Keyword

arg-type = keyword;

The argument must match a specified list of strings (see section Keyword list). Assuming you have named the option, optn-name, the strings will be converted into an enumeration of type te_Optn_Name with the values OPTN_NAME_KEYWORD.* If you have not specified a default value, the value OPTN_NAME_UNDEFINED will be inserted with the value zero. The option will be initialized to that value. You may now use this in your code as follows:

te_Optn_Name opt = OPT_VALUE_OPTN_NAME;
switch (opt) {
case OPTN_NAME_UNDEFINED:  /* undefined things */ break;
case OPTN_NAME_KEYWORD:    /* `keyword' things */ break;
default: /* utterly impossible */ ;

AutoOpts produces a special purpose procedure for this option. You may not specify an alternate handling procedure.

If you have need for the string name of the selected keyword, you may obtain this with the macro, OPT_OPTN_NAME_VAL2STR(val). The value you pass would normally be OPT_VALUE_OPTN_NAME, but anything with numeric value that is legal for te_Optn_Name may be passed. Anything out of range will result in the string, ‘"*INVALID*"’ being returned. The strings are read only. It may be used as in:

te_Optn_Name opt = OPT_VALUE_OPTN_NAME;
printf( "you selected the %s keyword\n",
        OPT_OPTN_NAME_VAL2STR(opt) );

* Note: you may replace the OPTN_NAME enumeration prefix with another prefix by specifying a prefix-enum attribute.

Finally, users may specify the argument either by name or by number. Since the numeric equivalents change by having new entries inserted into the keyword list, this would not be a recommended practice. However, either -1 or ~0 will always be equivalent to specifying the last keyword.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Set Membership

arg-type = set;

The argument must be a list of names each of which must match the strings “all”, “none” or one of the keywords (see section Keyword list) specified for this option. all will turn on all membership bits and none will turn them all off. Specifying one of the keywords will set the corresponding set membership bit on (or off, if negated) . Literal numbers may also be used and may, thereby, set or clear more than one bit.

The membership result starts with the previous (or initialized) result. To clear previous results, either start the membership string with ‘none +’ or with the equals character (‘=’). To invert (bit flip) the final result (regardless of whether the previous result is carried over or not), start the string with a carat character (‘^’). If you wish to invert the result and start without a carried over value, use one of the following: =^ or ^none+. These are equivalent.

The list of names or numbers must be separated by one of the following characters: ‘+-|!,’ or whitespace. The comma is equivalent to whitespace, except that only one may appear between two entries and it may not appear in conjunction with the or bar (‘|’). The ‘+|’ leading characters or unadorned name signify adding the next named bit to the mask, and the ‘-!’ leading characters indicate removing it.

The number of keywords allowed is constrained by the number of bits in a pointer, as the bit set is kept in a void * pointer.

If, for example, you specified first in your list of keywords, then you can use the following code to test to see if either first or all was specified:

uintptr_t opt = OPT_VALUE_OPTN_NAME;
if (opt & OPTN_NAME_FIRST)
    /* OPTN_NAME_FIRST bit was set */ ;

AutoOpts produces a special purpose procedure for this option. To set multiple bits as the default (initial) value, you must specify an initial numeric value (which might become inaccurate over time), or else specify arg-default multiple times. Do not specify a series of names conjoined with + symbols as the value for any of the arg-default attributes. That works for option parsing, but not for the option code generation.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Hierarchical

arg-type = hierarchy;
arg-type = nested;

This denotes an option with a structure-valued argument, a.k.a. subopts in getopts terminology. The argument is parsed and the values made available to the program via the find and find next calls (See section optionFindValue, See section optionGetValue, and see section optionFindNextValue).

tOptionValue * val = optionGetValue(VALUE_OPT_OPTN_NAME, "name");
while (val != NULL) {
  val = optionNextValue(VALUE_OPT_OPTN_NAME, val);
  if (wrong_name(val, "name"))

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type File Name

arg-type = file;

This argument type will have some validations on the argument and, optionally, actually open the file. You must specify several additonal attributes for the option:


If not specified or empty, then the directory portion of the name is checked. The directory must exist or the argument is rejected and the usage procedure is invoked.

Otherwise, both the directory as above and the full name is tested for existence. If the value begins with the two letters no, then the file must not pre-exist. Otherwise, the file is expected to exist.


If not specified or empty, the file is left alone. If the value begins with the four letters desc[riptor], then open(2) is used and optArg.argFd is set. Otherwise, the file is opened with fopen and optArg.argFp is set.


If open-file is set and not empty, then you must specify the open mode. Set the value to the flag bits or mode string as appropriate for the open type.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Time Duration

arg-type = time-duration;

The argument will be converted into a number of seconds. It may be a multi-part number with different parts being multiplied into a seconds value and added into the final result. Valid forms are in the table below. Upper cased letters represent numbers that must be used in the expressions.


HH is multiplied by 3600 and MM multiplied by 60 before they are added to SS. This time specification may not be followed by any other time specs. HH and MM are both optional, though HH cannot be specified without MM.


DAYS is multiplied by the number of seconds in a day. This value may be followed by (and added to) values specified by HH:MM:SS or the suffixed values below. If present, it must always be first.


HRS is multiplied by the number of seconds in an hour. This value may be followed by (and added to) values specified by MM:SS or the suffixed values below.


MINS is multiplied by the number of seconds in a minute. This value may be followed by (and added to) a count of seconds.


This value can only be the last value in a time specification. The s suffix is optional.

   5 d 1:10:05    ==> 5 days + 1 hour 10 minutes and 5 seconds
   5 d 1 h 10 m 5 ==> yields: 436205 seconds
   5d1h10m5s      ==> same result -- spaces are optional.

When saved into a config file, the value will be stored as a simple count of seconds. There are actually more (many) accepted time duration strings. The full documentation can be found with ISO-8601 documentation and the more extedded documentation when parse_duration() becomes more widely available.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Arg Type Time and Date

arg-type = time-date;

The argument will be converted into the number of seconds since the epoch. The conversion rules are very complicated, please see the ‘getdate_r(3GNU)’ man page. There are some additional restrictions:

  1. Your project must be compiled with PKGDATADIR defined and naming a valid directory.
  2. The DATEMSK environment variable will be set to the ‘datemsk’ file within that directory.

If that file is not accessible for any reason, the string will be parsed as a time duration (see section Arg Type Time Duration) instead of a specific date and time.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Keyword list

If the arg-type is keyword (see section Arg Type Keyword) or set-membership (see section Arg Type Set Membership), then you must specify the list of keywords by a series of keyword entries. The interface file will contain values for <OPTN_NAME>_<KEYWORD> for each keyword entry. keyword option types will have an enumeration and set-membership option types will have a set of unsigned bits #define-d.

If the arg-type is specifically keyword, you may also add special handling code with a extra-code attribute. After optionEnumerationVal has converted the input string into an enumeration, you may insert code to process this enumeration value (pOptDesc->optArg.argEnum).

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Option Argument Optional

The arg-optional attribute indicates that the argument to the option is optional (need not be specified on the command line). This is only valid if the arg-type is string (see section Arg Type String) or keyword (see section Arg Type Keyword). If it is keyword, then this attribute may also specify the default keyword to assume when the argument is not supplied. If left empty, arg-default (see section Default Option Argument Value) or the zero-valued keyword will be used.

The syntax rules for identifying the option argument are:

This is overridden and the options are required if the libopts library gets configured with ‘--disable-optional-args’.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Default Option Argument Value

This specifies the default option argument value to be used when the option is not specified or preset. You may specify multiple arg-default values if the argument type is set membership.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.5.7 Option Argument Handling

AutoOpts will either specify or automatically generate callback procedures for options that take specialized arguments. The only option argument types that are not specialized are plain string arguments and no argument at all. For options that fall into one of those two categories, you may specify your own callback function, as specified below. If you do this and if you specify that options are resettable (see section Automatically Supported Options), then your option handling code must look for the ‘OPTST_RESET’ bit in the fOptState field of the option descriptor.

If the option takes a string argument, then the stack-arg attribute can be used to specify that the option is to be handled by the libopts stackOptArg() and unstackOptArg() library procedures (see below). In this case, you may not provide option handling code.

Finally, ‘documentation’ options (see section Option Sectioning Comment) may also be marked as ‘settable’ (see section Program may set option) and have special callback functions (either ‘flag-code’, ‘extract-code’, or ‘call-proc’).


statements to execute when the option is encountered. This may be used in conjunction with option argument types that cause AutoOpts to emit handler code. If you do this, the ‘flag-code’ with index zero (0) is emitted into the handler code before the argument is handled, and the entry with index one (1) is handled afterward.

The generated procedure will be laid out something like this:

static void
doOpt<name>(tOptions* pOptions, tOptDesc* pOptDesc)
<AutoOpts defined handler code>

Only certain fields within the tOptions and tOptDesc structures may be accessed. See section Data for Option Processing. When writing this code, you must be very careful with the pOptions pointer. The handler code is called with this pointer set to special values for handling special situations. Your code must handle them. As an example, look at optionEnumerationVal in ‘enum.c’.


This is effectively identical to flag-code, except that the source is kept in the output file instead of the definitions file and you cannot use this in conjunction with options with arguments, other than string arguments.

A long comment is used to demarcate the code. You must not modify that marker. Before regenerating the option code file, the old file is renamed from MUMBLE.c to MUMBLE.c.save. The template will be looking there for the text to copy into the new output file.


external procedure to call when option is encountered. The calling sequence must conform to the sequence defined above for the generated procedure, doOpt<name>. It has the same restrictions regarding the fields within the structures passed in as arguments. See section Data for Option Processing.


Name of another option whose flag-code can be executed when this option is encountered.


Call a special library routine to stack the option’s arguments. Special macros in the interface file are provided for determining how many of the options were found (STACKCT_OPT(NAME)) and to obtain a pointer to a list of pointers to the argument values (STACKLST_OPT(NAME)). Obviously, for a stackable argument, the max attribute (see section Common Option Attributes) needs to be set higher than 1.

If this stacked argument option has a disablement prefix, then the entire stack of arguments will be cleared by specifying the option with that disablement prefix.


Call a special library routine to remove (unstack) strings from a stack-arg option stack. This attribute must name the option that is to be unstacked. Neither this option nor the stacked argument option it references may be equivalenced to another option.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.5.8 Internationalizing Options

Normally, AutoOpts produces usage text that is difficult to translate. It is pieced together on the fly using words and phrases scattered around here and there, piecing together toe document. This does not translate well.

Incorporated into this package are some ways around the problem. First, you should specify the full-usage and short-usage program attributes (see section Program Description Attributes). This will enable your translators to translate the usage text as a whole.

Your translators will also be able to translate long option names. The option name translations will then become the names searched for both on the command line and in configuration files. However, it will not affect the names of environment variable names used to configure your program.

If it is considered desireable to keep configuration files in the C locale, then several macros are available to suppress or delay the translations of option names at run time. These are all disabled if ENABLE_NLS is not defined at compile time or if no-xlate has been set to the value anything. These macros must be invoked before the first invocation of optionProcess.


Disable (or enable) the translations of option names for configuration files. If you enable translation for config files, then they will be translated for command line options.


Disable (or enable) the translations of option names for command line processing. If you disable the translation for command line processing, you will also disable it for configuration file processing. Once translated, the option names will remain translated.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.5.9 Man and Info doc Attributes

AutoOpts includes AutoGen templates for producing abbreviated man pages and for producing the invoking section of an info document. To take advantage of these templates, you must add several attributes to your option definitions.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Per option documentation attributes

These attributes are sub-attributes (sub-stanzas) of the flag stanzas.


If an option has an argument, the argument should have a name for documentation purposes. It will default to arg-type, but it will likely be clearer with something else like, file-name instead of string (the type).


First, every flag definition other than documentation definitions, must have a doc attribute defined. If the option takes an argument, then it will need an arg-name attribute as well. The doc text should be in plain sentences with minimal formatting. The Texinfo commands @code, and @var will have its enclosed text made into \fB entries in the man page, and the @file text will be made into \fI entries. The arg-name attribute is used to display the option’s argument in the man page.

Options marked with the documentation attribute are for documenting the usage text. All other options should have the doc attribute in order to document the usage of the option in the generated man pages.

Since these blocks of text are inserted into all output forms, any markup text included in these blocks must be massaged for each output format. By default, it is presumed to be ‘texi’ format.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] Global documentation attributes


If your command is a game or a system management command, specify this attribute with the value 5 or 8, respectively. The default is a user command (section 1).


This attribute is used to add a very short explanation about what a program is used for when the title attribute is insufficient. If there is no doc-section stanza of type DESCRIPTION, then this text is used for the man page DESCRIPTION section, too.


This attribute tells the template that the generated code should be surrounded with the following doxygen comments:

/** @file <header-or-code-file-name>
 *  @addtogroup <value-of-addtogroup>
 *  @{


/** @} */

Specify the default markup style for the doc stanzas. By default, it is texi, but man and mdoc may also be selected. There are nine converter programs that do a partial job of converting one form of markup into another. texi2texi, man2man and mdoc2mdoc work pretty well.

You may also post process the document by using doc-sub stanzas, see below.


This text will be inserted as a lead-in paragraph in the OPTIONS section of the generated man page.


This is a compound attribute that requires three subattributes:


This describes the format of the associated ds-text section. man, mdoc and texi formats are supported. Regardless of the chosen format, the formatting tags in the output text will be converted to man macros for man pages, mdoc macros for mdoc pages, and texi macros for texinfo pages.


This is the descriptive text, written according to the rules for ds-format documents.


This describes the section type. Basically, the title of the section that will be added to all output documentation. There may be only one doc-section for any given ds-type. If there are duplicates, the results are undefined (it might work, it might not).

There are five categories of ds-type sections. They are those that the documentation templates would otherwise:

  1. always create itself, ignoring any ds-types by this name. These are marked, below, as ao-only.
  2. create, if none was provided. These are marked, alternate.
  3. create, but augment if the doc-section was provided. These are marked, augments.
  4. do nothing, but inserts them into the output in a prescribed order. These are marked, known
  5. knows nothing about them. They will be alphabetized and inserted after the list of leading sections and before the list of trailing sections. These are not marked because I don’t know their names.

Some of these are emitted by the documentation templates only if certain conditions are met. If there are conditions, they are explained below. If there are no conditions, then you will always see the named section in the output.

The output sections will appear in this order:










ao-only, if environment presets or configuration file processing has been specified.


At this point, the unknown, alphabetized sections are inserted.




augments, if environment presets have been specified.


augments, if configuration file processing has been specified.
















alternate, if the copyright stanza has either an author or an owner attribute.


alternate, if there is a copyright stanza.


augments, if the copyright stanza has an eaddr attribute.



Here is an example of a doc-section for a SEE ALSO type.

doc-section = {
  ds-type   = 'SEE ALSO'; // or anything else
  ds-format = 'man';      // or texi or mdoc format
  ds-text   = <<-_EOText_
	text relevant to this section type,
	in the chosen format

This attribute will cause the resulting documentation to be post-processed. This is normally with sed, see doc-sub-cmd below. This attribute has several sub-attributes:


This is the name of an autogen text definition value, like prog-name or version. In the sub-text field, occurrences of this name preceded by two less than characters and followed by two greater than characters will be replaced by the text value of the definition, e.g. ‘<<prog-name>>’.


The text that gets added to the command file for the post processing program.


If this command only applies to certain types of output, specify this with a regular expression that will match one of the valid output format types, e.g. ‘man|mdoc’ will match those two kinds, but not texi output. If omitted, it will always apply.

For example, if you want to reference the program name in the doc text for an option common to two programs, put ‘#PROG#’ into the text. The following will replace all occrrences of ‘#PROG#’ with the current value for prog:

doc-sub = {
  sub-name = prog-name;
  sub-text = 's/#PROG#/<<prog-name>>/g';

A formatting string for constructing the post-processing command. The first parameter is the name of the file with editing commands in it, and the second is the file containing the unprocessed document. The default value is:

sed -f %s %s

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options

AutoOpts provides automated support for several options. help and more-help are always provided. The others are conditional upon various global program attributes being defined See section Program Description Attributes.

Below are the option names and default flag values. The flags are activated if and only if at least one user-defined option also uses a flag value. The long names are supported as option names if long-opts has been specified. These option flags may be deleted or changed to characters of your choosing by specifying xxx-value = "y";, where xxx is one of the option names below and y is either empty or the character of your choice. For example, to change the help flag from ? to h, specify help-value = "h";; and to require that save-opts be specified only with its long option name, specify save-opts-value = "";.

Additionally, the procedure that prints out the program version may be replaced by specifying version-proc. This procedure must be defined to be of external scope (non-static). By default, the AutoOpts library provides optionPrintVersion and it will be the specified callback function in the option definition structure.

With the exception of the load-opts option, none of these automatically supported options will be recognized in configuration files or environment variables.

help -?

This option will immediately invoke the USAGE() procedure and display the usage line, a description of each option with its description and option usage information. This is followed by the contents of the definition of the detail text macro.

more-help -!

This option is identical to the help option, except that the output is passed through a pager program. (more by default, or the program identified by the PAGER environment variable.)

usage -u

This option must be requested by specifying, usage-opt in the option definition file. It will produce abbreviated help text to ‘stdout’ and exit with zero status (EXIT_SUCCESS).

version -v

This will print the program name, title and version. If it is followed by the letter c and a value for copyright and owner have been provided, then the copyright will be printed, too. If it is followed by the letter n, then the full copyright notice (if available) will be printed. The version attribute must be specified in the option definition file.

load-opts -<

This option will load options from the named file. They will be treated exactly as if they were loaded from the normally found configuration files, but will not be loaded until the option is actually processed. This can also be used within another configuration file, causing them to nest. This is the only automatically supported option that can be activated inside of config files or with environment variables.

Specifying the negated form of the option (‘--no-load-opts’) will suppress the processing of configuration files and environment variables.

This option is activated by specifying one or more homerc attributes.

save-opts ->

This option will cause the option state to be printed in the configuration file format when option processing is done but not yet verified for consistency. The program will terminate successfully without running when this has completed. Note that for most shells you will have to quote or escape the flag character to restrict special meanings to the shell.

The output file will be the configuration file name (default or provided by rcfile) in the last directory named in a homerc definition.

This option may be set from within your program by invoking the "SET_OPT_SAVE_OPTS(filename)" macro (see section SET_OPT_name - Force an option to be set). Invoking this macro will set the file name for saving the option processing state, but the state will not actually be saved. You must call optionSaveFile to do that (see section optionSaveFile). CAVEAT: if, after invoking this macro, you call optionProcess, the option processing state will be saved to this file and optionProcess will not return. You may wish to invoke CLEAR_OPT( SAVE_OPTS ) (see section CLEAR_OPT( <NAME> ) - Clear Option Markings) beforehand if you do need to reinvoke optionProcess.

This option is activated by specifying one or more homerc attributes.

reset-option -R

This option takes the name of an option for the current program and resets its state such that it is set back to its original, compile-time initialized value. If the option state is subsequently stored (via ‘--save-opts’), the named option will not appear in that file.

This option is activated by specifying the resettable attribute.

BEWARE: If the resettable attribute is specified, all option callbacks must look for the OPTST_RESET bit in the fOptState field of the option descriptor. If set, the optCookie and optArg fields will be unchanged from their last setting. When the callback returns, these fields will be set to their original values. If you use this feature and you have allocated data hanging off of the cookie, you need to deallocate it.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.5.11 Library of Standard Options

AutoOpts has developed a set of standardized options. You may incorporate these options in your program simply by first adding a #define for the options you want, and then the line,

#include stdoptions.def

in your option definitions. The supported options are specified thus:

#define DEBUG
#define DRY_RUN
#define INPUT
#define OUTPUT
#define WARN

#define SILENT
#define QUIET
#define BRIEF
#define VERBOSE

By default, only the long form of the option will be available. To specify the short (flag) form, suffix these names with _FLAG. e.g.,

#define DEBUG_FLAG

--silent’, ‘--quiet’, ‘--brief’ and ‘--verbose’ are related in that they all indicate some level of diagnostic output. These options are all designed to conflict with each other. Instead of four different options, however, several levels can be incorporated by #define-ing VERBOSE_ENUM. In conjunction with VERBOSE, it incorporates the notion of 5 levels in an enumeration: silent, quiet, brief, informative and verbose; with the default being brief.

Here is an example program that uses the following set of definitions:

AutoGen Definitions options;

prog-name  = default-test;
prog-title = 'Default Option Example';
homerc     = '$$/../share/default-test', '$HOME', '.';
version    = '1.0';
main = {
  main-type = shell-process;
#define DEBUG_FLAG
#define WARN_FLAG
#define WARN_LEVEL
#define DRY_RUN_FLAG
#define INPUT_FLAG
#include stdoptions.def

Running a few simple commands on that definition file:

autogen default-test.def
copts="-DTEST_DEFAULT_TEST_OPTS `autoopts-config cflags`"
lopts="`autoopts-config ldflags`"
cc -o default-test ${copts} default-test.c ${lopts}

Yields a program which, when run with ‘--help’, prints out:

exit 0

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.6 Programmatic Interface

The user interface for access to the argument information is completely defined in the generated header file and in the portions of the distributed file "options.h" that are marked "public".

In the following macros, text marked <NAME> or name is the name of the option in upper case and segmented with underscores _. The macros and enumerations defined in the options header (interface) file are used as follows:

To see how these #define macros are used in a program, the reader is referred to the several ‘opts.h’ files included with the AutoGen sources.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.6.1 Data for Option Processing

This section describes the data that may be accessed from within the option processing callback routines. The following fields may be used in the following ways and may be used for read only. The first set is addressed from the tOptDesc* pointer:


These may be used by option procedures to determine which option they are working on (in case they handle several options).


These may be used by option procedures to determine which option was used to set the current option. This may be different from the above if the options are members of an equivalence class.


If AutoOpts is processing command line arguments, then this value will contain the current occurrence count. During the option preset phase (reading configuration files and examining environment variables), the value is zero.


The field may be tested for the following bit values (prefix each name with OPTST_, e.g. OPTST_INIT):


Initial compiled value. As a bit test, it will always yield FALSE.


The option was set via the SET_OPT() macro.


The option was set via a configuration file.


The option was set via a command line option.


This is a mask of flags that show the set state, one of the above four values.


This bit is set when the option was selected by an equivalenced option.


This bit is set if the option is to be disabled. (Meaning it was a long option prefixed by the disablement prefix, or the option has not been specified yet and initializes as disabled.)

As an example of how this might be used, in AutoGen I want to allow template writers to specify that the template output can be left in a writable or read-only state. To support this, there is a Guile function named set-writable (see section set-writable’ - Make the output file be writable). Also, I provide for command options ‘--writable’ and ‘--not-writable’. I give precedence to command line and RC file options, thus:

switch (STATE_OPT( WRITABLE )) {
    fprintf(stderr, zOverrideWarn, pCurTemplate->pzFileName,

    if (gh_boolean_p( set ) && (set == SCM_BOOL_F))

Pointer to the latest argument string. BEWARE If the argument type is numeric, an enumeration or a bit mask, then this will be the argument value and not a pointer to a string.

The following two fields are addressed from the tOptions* pointer:


Points to a NUL-terminated string containing the current program name, as retrieved from the argument vector.


Points to a NUL-terminated string containing the full path of the current program, as retrieved from the argument vector. (If available on your system.)

Note these fields get filled in during the first call to optionProcess(). All other fields are private, for the exclusive use of AutoOpts code and are subject to change.

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7.6.2 CLEAR_OPT( <NAME> ) - Clear Option Markings

Make as if the option had never been specified. HAVE_OPT(<NAME>) will yield FALSE after invoking this macro.

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7.6.3 COUNT_OPT( <NAME> ) - Definition Count

This macro will tell you how many times the option was specified on the command line. It does not include counts of preset options.

if (COUNT_OPT( NAME ) != desired-count) {

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7.6.4 DESC( <NAME> ) - Option Descriptor

This macro is used internally by other AutoOpt macros. It is not for general use. It is used to obtain the option description corresponding to its UPPER CASED option name argument. This is primarily used in other macro definitions.

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7.6.5 DISABLE_OPT_name - Disable an option

This macro is emitted if it is both settable and it can be disabled. If it cannot be disabled, it may always be CLEAR-ed (see above).

The form of the macro will actually depend on whether the option is equivalenced to another, and/or has an assigned handler procedure. Unlike the SET_OPT macro, this macro does not allow an option argument.


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7.6.6 ENABLED_OPT( <NAME> ) - Is Option Enabled?

Yields true if the option defaults to disabled and ISUNUSED_OPT() would yield true. It also yields true if the option has been specified with a disablement prefix, disablement value or the DISABLE_OPT_NAME macro was invoked.

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7.6.7 ERRSKIP_OPTERR - Ignore Option Errors

When it is necessary to continue (return to caller) on option errors, invoke this option. It is reversible. See section ERRSTOP_OPTERR - Stop on Errors.

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7.6.8 ERRSTOP_OPTERR - Stop on Errors

After invoking this macro, if optionProcess() encounters an error, it will call exit(1) rather than return. This is the default processing mode. It can be overridden by specifying allow-errors in the definitions file, or invoking the macro See section ERRSKIP_OPTERR - Ignore Option Errors.

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7.6.9 HAVE_OPT( <NAME> ) - Have this option?

This macro yields true if the option has been specified in any fashion at all. It is used thus:

if (HAVE_OPT( NAME )) {

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7.6.10 ISSEL_OPT( <NAME> ) - Is Option Selected?

This macro yields true if the option has been specified either on the command line or via a SET/DISABLE macro.

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7.6.11 ISUNUSED_OPT( <NAME> ) - Never Specified?

This macro yields true if the option has never been specified, or has been cleared via the CLEAR_OPT() macro.

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7.6.12 OPTION_CT - Full Count of Options

The full count of all options, both those defined and those generated automatically by AutoOpts. This is primarily used to initialize the program option descriptor structure.

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7.6.13 OPT_ARG( <NAME> ) - Option Argument String

The option argument value as a pointer to string. Note that argument values that have been specified as numbers are stored as numbers or keywords. For such options, use instead the OPT_VALUE_name define. It is used thus:

if (HAVE_OPT( NAME )) {
    char* p = OPT_ARG( NAME );

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7.6.14 OPT_NO_XLAT_CFG_NAMES - option name xlation

Invoking this macro will disable the translation of option names only while processing configuration files and environment variables. This must be invoked before the first call to optionProcess.. You need not invoke this if your option definition file contains the attribute assignment, no-xlate = opt-cfg;.

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7.6.15 OPT_NO_XLAT_OPT_NAMES - option name xlation

Invoking this macro will completely disable the translation of option names. This must be invoked before the first call to optionProcess. You need not invoke this if your option definition file contains the attribute assignment, no-xlate = opt;.

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7.6.16 OPT_VALUE_name - Option Argument Value

This macro gets emitted only for options that take numeric, keyword or set membership arguments. The macro yields a word-sized integer containing the enumeration, bit set or numeric value for the option argument.

int opt_val = OPT_VALUE_name;

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7.6.17 OPT_XLAT_CFG_NAMES - option name xlation

If ENABLE_NLS is defined and no-xlate has been not set to the value anything, this macro will cause the translation of option names to happen before starting the processing of configuration files and environment variables. This will change the recognition of options within the $PROGRAMNAME environment variable, but will not alter the names used for setting options via $PROGRAMNAME_name environment variables.

This must be invoked before the first call to optionProcess. You might need to use this macro if your option definition file contains the attribute assignment, no-xlate = opt; or no-xlate = opt-cfg;, and you have determined in some way that you wish to override that.

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7.6.18 OPT_XLAT_OPT_NAMES - option name xlation

If ENABLE_NLS is defined and no-xlate has been not set to the value anything, translate the option names before processing the command line options. Long option names may thus be localized. (If the names were translated before configuration processing, they will not be re-translated.)

This must be invoked before the first call to optionProcess. You might need to use this macro if your option definition file contains the attribute assignment, no-xlate = opt; and you have determined in some way that you wish to override that.

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7.6.19 RESTART_OPT( n ) - Resume Option Processing

If option processing has stopped (either because of an error or something was encountered that looked like a program argument), it can be resumed by providing this macro with the index n of the next option to process and calling optionProcess() again.

int main(int argc, char ** argv) {
  for (int ai = 0; ai < argc ;) {
    ai = optionProcess(&progOptions, argc, argv);
    for (; ai < argc; ai++) {
      char * arg = arg[ai];
      if (*arg == '-') {
        goto restart;

If you want a program to operate this way, you might consider specifying a for-each main function (see section for-each main procedure) with the interleaved attribute. It will allow you to process interleaved operands and options from either the command line or when reading them from standard input.

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7.6.20 SET_OPT_name - Force an option to be set

This macro gets emitted only when the given option has the settable attribute specified.

The form of the macro will actually depend on whether the option is equivalenced to another, has an option argument and/or has an assigned handler procedure. If the option has an argument, then this macro will too. Beware that the argument is not reallocated, so the value must not be on the stack or deallocated in any other way for as long as the value might get referenced.

If you have supplied at least one ‘homerc’ file (see section Program Description Attributes), this macro will be emitted for the ‘--save-opts’ option.

SET_OPT_SAVE_OPTS( "filename" );

See section Automatically Supported Options, for a discussion of the implications of using this particular example.

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7.6.21 STACKCT_OPT( <NAME> ) - Stacked Arg Count

When the option handling attribute is specified as stack_arg, this macro may be used to determine how many of them actually got stacked.

Do not use this on options that have not been stacked or has not been specified (the stack_arg attribute must have been specified, and HAVE_OPT(<NAME>) must yield TRUE). Otherwise, you will likely seg fault.

if (HAVE_OPT( NAME )) {
    int     ct = STACKCT_OPT(  NAME );
    char**  pp = STACKLST_OPT( NAME );

    do  {
        char* p = *pp++;
    } while (--ct > 0);

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7.6.22 STACKLST_OPT( <NAME> ) - Argument Stack

The address of the list of pointers to the option arguments. The pointers are ordered by the order in which they were encountered in the option presets and command line processing.

Do not use this on options that have not been stacked or has not been specified (the stack_arg attribute must have been specified, and HAVE_OPT(<OPTION>) must yield TRUE). Otherwise, you will likely seg fault.

if (HAVE_OPT( NAME )) {
    int     ct = STACKCT_OPT(  NAME );
    char**  pp = STACKLST_OPT( NAME );

    do  {
        char* p = *pp++;
    } while (--ct > 0);

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7.6.23 START_OPT - Restart Option Processing

This is just a shortcut for RESTART_OPT(1) (See section RESTART_OPT( n ) - Resume Option Processing.)

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7.6.24 STATE_OPT( <NAME> ) - Option State

If you need to know if an option was set because of presetting actions (configuration file processing or environment variables), versus a command line entry versus one of the SET/DISABLE macros, then use this macro. It will yield one of four values: OPTST_INIT, OPTST_SET, OPTST_PRESET or OPTST_DEFINED. It is used thus:

switch (STATE_OPT( NAME )) {
    case OPTST_INIT:
        not-preset, set or on the command line.  (unless CLEAR-ed)

    case OPTST_SET:
        option set via the SET_OPT_NAME() macro.

    case OPTST_PRESET:
        option set via an configuration file or environment variable

        option set via a command line option.

        cannot happen :)

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7.6.25 USAGE( exit-code ) - Usage invocation macro

This macro invokes the procedure registered to display the usage text. Normally, this will be optionUsage from the AutoOpts library, but you may select another procedure by specifying usage = "proc_name" program attribute. This procedure must take two arguments first, a pointer to the option descriptor, and second the exit code. The macro supplies the option descriptor automatically. This routine is expected to call exit(3) with the provided exit code.

The optionUsage routine also behaves differently depending on the exit code:

EXIT_SUCCESS (the value zero)

It is assumed that full usage help has been requested. Consequently, more information is provided than when displaying usage and exiting with a non-zero exit code. Output will be sent to ‘stdout’ and the program will exit with a zero status code.


The abbreviated usage will be printed to ‘stdout’ and the program will exit with a zero status code. EX_USAGE may or may not be 64. If your system provides ‘/usr/include/sysexits.h’ that has a different value, then that value will be used.

any other value

The abbreviated usage will be printed to stderr and the program will exit with the provided status code.

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7.6.26 VALUE_OPT_name - Option Flag Value

This is a #define for the flag character used to specify an option on the command line. If value was not specified for the option, then it is a unique number associated with the option. option value refers to this value, option argument refers to the (optional) argument to the option.


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7.6.27 VERSION - Version and Full Version

If the version attribute is defined for the program, then a stringified version will be #defined as PROGRAM_VERSION and PROGRAM_FULL_VERSION. PROGRAM_FULL_VERSION is used for printing the program version in response to the version option. The version option is automatically supplied in response to this attribute, too.

You may access PROGRAM_VERSION via programOptions.pzFullVersion.

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7.6.28 WHICH_IDX_name - Which Equivalenced Index

This macro gets emitted only for equivalenced-to options. It is used to obtain the index for the one of the several equivalence class members set the equivalenced-to option.


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7.6.29 WHICH_OPT_name - Which Equivalenced Option

This macro gets emitted only for equivalenced-to options. It is used to obtain the value code for the one of the several equivalence class members set the equivalenced-to option.


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7.6.30 teOptIndex - Option Index and Enumeration

This enum defines the complete set of options, both user specified and automatically provided. This can be used, for example, to distinguish which of the equivalenced options was actually used.

switch (pOptDesc->optActualIndex) {

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7.6.31 OPTIONS_STRUCT_VERSION - active version

You will not actually need to reference this value, but you need to be aware that it is there. It is the first value in the option descriptor that you pass to optionProcess. It contains a magic number and version information. Normally, you should be able to work with a more recent option library than the one you compiled with. However, if the library is changed incompatibly, then the library will detect the out of date magic marker, explain the difficulty and exit. You will then need to rebuild and recompile your option definitions. This has rarely been necessary.

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7.6.32 libopts External Procedures

These are the routines that libopts users may call directly from their code. There are several other routines that can be called by code generated by the libopts option templates, but they are not to be called from any other user code. The ‘options.h’ header is fairly clear about this, too.

This subsection was automatically generated by AutoGen using extracted information and the aginfo3.tpl template.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] ao_string_tokenize

tokenize an input string


token_list_t* res = ao_string_tokenize( string );

Where the arguments are:

stringchar const*string to be tokenized
returnstoken_list_t*pointer to a structure that lists each token

This function will convert one input string into a list of strings. The list of strings is derived by separating the input based on white space separation. However, if the input contains either single or double quote characters, then the text after that character up to a matching quote will become the string in the list.

The returned pointer should be deallocated with free(3C) when are done using the data. The data are placed in a single block of allocated memory. Do not deallocate individual token/strings.

The structure pointed to will contain at least these two fields:


The number of tokens found in the input string.


An array of tkn_ct + 1 pointers to substring tokens, with the last pointer set to NULL.

There are two types of quoted strings: single quoted (') and double quoted ("). Singly quoted strings are fairly raw in that escape characters (\\) are simply another character, except when preceding the following characters:

\\  double backslashes reduce to one
'   incorporates the single quote into the string
\n  suppresses both the backslash and newline character

Double quote strings are formed according to the rules of string constants in ANSI-C programs.

NULL is returned and errno will be set to indicate the problem:

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] configFileLoad

parse a configuration file


const tOptionValue* res = configFileLoad( fname );

Where the arguments are:

fnamechar const*the file to load
returnsconst tOptionValue*An allocated, compound value structure

This routine will load a named configuration file and parse the text as a hierarchically valued option. The option descriptor created from an option definition file is not used via this interface. The returned value is "named" with the input file name and is of type "OPARG_TYPE_HIERARCHY". It may be used in calls to optionGetValue(), optionNextValue() and optionUnloadNested().

If the file cannot be loaded or processed, NULL is returned and errno is set. It may be set by a call to either open(2) mmap(2) or other file system calls, or it may be:

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Load the locatable config files, in order


int res = optionFileLoad( opts, prog );

Where the arguments are:

optstOptions*program options descriptor
progchar const*program name
returnsint0 -> SUCCESS, -1 -> FAILURE

This function looks in all the specified directories for a configuration file ("rc" file or "ini" file) and processes any found twice. The first time through, they are processed in reverse order (last file first). At that time, only "immediate action" configurables are processed. For example, if the last named file specifies not processing any more configuration files, then no more configuration files will be processed. Such an option in the first named directory will have no effect.

Once the immediate action configurables have been handled, then the directories are handled in normal, forward order. In that way, later config files can override the settings of earlier config files.

See the AutoOpts documentation for a thorough discussion of the config file format.

Configuration files not found or not decipherable are simply ignored.

Returns the value, "-1" if the program options descriptor is out of date or indecipherable. Otherwise, the value "0" will always be returned.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionFindNextValue

find a hierarcicaly valued option instance


const tOptionValue* res = optionFindNextValue( odesc, pPrevVal, name, value );

Where the arguments are:

odescconst tOptDesc*an option with a nested arg type
pPrevValconst tOptionValue*the last entry
namechar const*name of value to find
valuechar const*the matching value
returnsconst tOptionValue*a compound value structure

This routine will find the next entry in a nested value option or configurable. It will search through the list and return the next entry that matches the criteria.

The returned result is NULL and errno is set:

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionFindValue

find a hierarcicaly valued option instance


const tOptionValue* res = optionFindValue( odesc, name, val );

Where the arguments are:

odescconst tOptDesc*an option with a nested arg type
namechar const*name of value to find
valchar const*the matching value
returnsconst tOptionValue*a compound value structure

This routine will find an entry in a nested value option or configurable. It will search through the list and return a matching entry.

The returned result is NULL and errno is set:

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionFree

free allocated option processing memory


optionFree( pOpts );

Where the arguments are:

pOptstOptions*program options descriptor

AutoOpts sometimes allocates memory and puts pointers to it in the option state structures. This routine deallocates all such memory.

As long as memory has not been corrupted, this routine is always successful.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionGetValue

get a specific value from a hierarcical list


const tOptionValue* res = optionGetValue( pOptValue, valueName );

Where the arguments are:

pOptValueconst tOptionValue*a hierarchcal value
valueNamechar const*name of value to get
returnsconst tOptionValue*a compound value structure

This routine will find an entry in a nested value option or configurable. If "valueName" is NULL, then the first entry is returned. Otherwise, the first entry with a name that exactly matches the argument will be returned. If there is no matching value, NULL is returned and errno is set to ENOENT. If the provided option value is not a hierarchical value, NULL is also returned and errno is set to EINVAL.

The returned result is NULL and errno is set:

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionLoadLine

process a string for an option name and value


optionLoadLine( opts, line );

Where the arguments are:

optstOptions*program options descriptor
linechar const*NUL-terminated text

This is a client program callable routine for setting options from, for example, the contents of a file that they read in. Only one option may appear in the text. It will be treated as a normal (non-preset) option.

When passed a pointer to the option struct and a string, it will find the option named by the first token on the string and set the option argument to the remainder of the string. The caller must NUL terminate the string. The caller need not skip over any introductory hyphens. Any embedded new lines will be included in the option argument. If the input looks like one or more quoted strings, then the input will be "cooked". The "cooking" is identical to the string formation used in AutoGen definition files (see section Basic Expression), except that you may not use backquotes.

Invalid options are silently ignored. Invalid option arguments will cause a warning to print, but the function should return.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionMemberList

Get the list of members of a bit mask set


char* res = optionMemberList( od );

Where the arguments are:

odtOptDesc *the set membership option description
returnschar*the names of the set bits

This converts the OPT_VALUE_name mask value to a allocated string. It is the caller’s responsibility to free the string.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionNextValue

get the next value from a hierarchical list


const tOptionValue* res = optionNextValue( pOptValue, pOldValue );

Where the arguments are:

pOptValueconst tOptionValue*a hierarchcal list value
pOldValueconst tOptionValue*a value from this list
returnsconst tOptionValue*a compound value structure

This routine will return the next entry after the entry passed in. At the end of the list, NULL will be returned. If the entry is not found on the list, NULL will be returned and "errno" will be set to EINVAL. The "pOldValue" must have been gotten from a prior call to this routine or to "opitonGetValue()".

The returned result is NULL and errno is set:

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionOnlyUsage

Print usage text for just the options


optionOnlyUsage( pOpts, ex_code );

Where the arguments are:

pOptstOptions*program options descriptor
ex_codeintexit code for calling exit(3)

This routine will print only the usage for each option. This function may be used when the emitted usage must incorporate information not available to AutoOpts.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionPrintVersion

Print the program version


optionPrintVersion( opts, od );

Where the arguments are:

optstOptions*program options descriptor
odtOptDesc*the descriptor for this arg

This routine will print the version to stdout.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionPrintVersionAndReturn

Print the program version


optionPrintVersionAndReturn( opts, od );

Where the arguments are:

optstOptions*program options descriptor
odtOptDesc*the descriptor for this arg

This routine will print the version to stdout and return instead of exiting. Please see the source for the print_ver funtion for details on selecting how verbose to be after this function returns.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionProcess

this is the main option processing routine


int res = optionProcess( opts, a_ct, a_v );

Where the arguments are:

optstOptions*program options descriptor
a_ctintprogram arg count
a_vchar**program arg vector
returnsintthe count of the arguments processed

This is the main entry point for processing options. It is intended that this procedure be called once at the beginning of the execution of a program. Depending on options selected earlier, it is sometimes necessary to stop and restart option processing, or to select completely different sets of options. This can be done easily, but you generally do not want to do this.

The number of arguments processed always includes the program name. If one of the arguments is "–", then it is counted and the processing stops. If an error was encountered and errors are to be tolerated, then the returned value is the index of the argument causing the error. A hyphen by itself ("-") will also cause processing to stop and will not be counted among the processed arguments. A hyphen by itself is treated as an operand. Encountering an operand stops option processing.

Errors will cause diagnostics to be printed. exit(3) may or may not be called. It depends upon whether or not the options were generated with the "allow-errors" attribute, or if the ERRSKIP_OPTERR or ERRSTOP_OPTERR macros were invoked.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionRestore

restore option state from memory copy


optionRestore( pOpts );

Where the arguments are:

pOptstOptions*program options descriptor

Copy back the option state from saved memory. The allocated memory is left intact, so this routine can be called repeatedly without having to call optionSaveState again. If you are restoring a state that was saved before the first call to optionProcess(3AO), then you may change the contents of the argc/argv parameters to optionProcess.

If you have not called optionSaveState before, a diagnostic is printed to stderr and exit is called.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionSaveFile

saves the option state to a file


optionSaveFile( opts );

Where the arguments are:

optstOptions*program options descriptor

This routine will save the state of option processing to a file. The name of that file can be specified with the argument to the --save-opts option, or by appending the rcfile attribute to the last homerc attribute. If no rcfile attribute was specified, it will default to .programnamerc. If you wish to specify another file, you should invoke the SET_OPT_SAVE_OPTS(filename) macro.

The recommend usage is as follows:

optionProcess(&progOptions, argc, argv);
if (i_want_a_non_standard_place_for_this)

If no homerc file was specified, this routine will silently return and do nothing. If the output file cannot be created or updated, a message will be printed to stderr and the routine will return.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionSaveState

saves the option state to memory


optionSaveState( pOpts );

Where the arguments are:

pOptstOptions*program options descriptor

This routine will allocate enough memory to save the current option processing state. If this routine has been called before, that memory will be reused. You may only save one copy of the option state. This routine may be called before optionProcess(3AO). If you do call it before the first call to optionProcess, then you may also change the contents of argc/argv after you call optionRestore(3AO)

In fact, more strongly put: it is safest to only use this function before having processed any options. In particular, the saving and restoring of stacked string arguments and hierarchical values is disabled. The values are not saved.

If it fails to allocate the memory, it will print a message to stderr and exit. Otherwise, it will always succeed.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionUnloadNested

Deallocate the memory for a nested value


optionUnloadNested( pOptVal );

Where the arguments are:

pOptValtOptionValue const *the hierarchical value

A nested value needs to be deallocated. The pointer passed in should have been gotten from a call to configFileLoad() (See see section configFileLoad).

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] optionVersion

return the compiled AutoOpts version number


char const* res = optionVersion();

Where the arguments are:

returnschar const*the version string in constant memory

Returns the full version string compiled into the library. The returned string cannot be modified.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] strequate

map a list of characters to the same value


strequate( ch_list );

Where the arguments are:

ch_listchar const*characters to equivalence

Each character in the input string get mapped to the first character in the string. This function name is mapped to option_strequate so as to not conflict with the POSIX name space.


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] streqvcmp

compare two strings with an equivalence mapping


int res = streqvcmp( str1, str2 );

Where the arguments are:

str1char const*first string
str2char const*second string
returnsintthe difference between two differing characters

Using a character mapping, two strings are compared for "equivalence". Each input character is mapped to a comparison character and the mapped-to characters are compared for the two NUL terminated input strings. This function name is mapped to option_streqvcmp so as to not conflict with the POSIX name space.

none checked. Caller responsible for seg faults.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ] streqvmap

Set the character mappings for the streqv functions


streqvmap( from, to, ct );

Where the arguments are:

fromcharInput character
tocharMapped-to character
ctintcompare length

Set the character mapping. If the count (ct) is set to zero, then the map is cleared by setting all entries in the map to their index value. Otherwise, the "From" character is mapped to the "To" character. If ct is greater than 1, then From and To are incremented and the process repeated until ct entries have been set. For example,

streqvmap('a', 'A', 26);

will alter the mapping so that all English lower case letters will map to upper case.

This function name is mapped to option_streqvmap so as to not conflict with the POSIX name space.


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compare two strings with an equivalence mapping


int res = strneqvcmp( str1, str2, ct );

Where the arguments are:

str1char const*first string
str2char const*second string
ctintcompare length
returnsintthe difference between two differing characters

Using a character mapping, two strings are compared for "equivalence". Each input character is mapped to a comparison character and the mapped-to characters are compared for the two NUL terminated input strings. The comparison is limited to ct bytes. This function name is mapped to option_strneqvcmp so as to not conflict with the POSIX name space.

none checked. Caller responsible for seg faults.

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convert a string into its mapped-to value


strtransform( dest, src );

Where the arguments are:

destchar*output string
srcchar const*input string

Each character in the input string is mapped and the mapped-to character is put into the output. This function name is mapped to option_strtransform so as to not conflict with the POSIX name space.

The source and destination may be the same.


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7.7 Multi-Threading

AutoOpts was designed to configure a program for running. This generally happens before much real work has been started. Consequently, it is expected to be run before multi-threaded applications have started multiple threads. However, this is not always the case. Some applications may need to reset and reload their running configuration, and some may use SET_OPT_xxx() macros during processing. If you need to dynamically change your option configuration in your multi-threaded application, it is your responsibility to prevent all threads from accessing the option configuration state, except the one altering the configuration.

The various accessor macros (HAVE_OPT(), etc.) do not modify state and are safe to use in a multi-threaded application. It is safe as long as no other thread is concurrently modifying state, of course.

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7.8 Option Descriptor File

This is the module that is to be compiled and linked with your program. It contains internal data and procedures subject to change. Basically, it contains a single global data structure containing all the information provided in the option definitions, plus a number of static strings and any callout procedures that are specified or required. You should never have need for looking at this, except, perhaps, to examine the code generated for implementing the flag-code construct.

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7.9 Using AutoOpts

There are actually several levels of using autoopts. Which you choose depends upon how you plan to distribute (or not) your application.

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7.9.1 local-only use

To use AutoOpts in your application where you do not have to worry about distribution issues, your issues are simple and few.

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7.9.2 binary distro, AutoOpts not installed

If you will be distributing (or copying) your project to a system that does not have AutoOpts installed, you will need to statically link the AutoOpts library, libopts into your program. Get the link information with static-libs instead of ldflags:

`autoopts-config static-libs`

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7.9.3 binary distro, AutoOpts pre-installed

If you will be distributing (or copying) your project to a system that does have AutoOpts (or only libopts) installed, you will still need to ensure that the library is findable at program load time, or you will still have to statically link. The former can be accomplished by linking your project with ‘--rpath’ or by setting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH appropriately. Otherwise, See section binary distro, AutoOpts not installed.

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7.9.4 source distro, AutoOpts pre-installed

If you will be distributing your project to a system that will build your product but it may not be pre-installed with AutoOpts, you will need to do some configuration checking before you start the build. Assuming you are willing to fail the build if AutoOpts has not been installed, you will still need to do a little work.

AutoOpts is distributed with a configuration check M4 script, ‘autoopts.m4’. It will add an autoconf macro named, AG_PATH_AUTOOPTS. Add this to your ‘configure.ac’ script and use the following substitution values:


the name of the autogen executable


the directory where AutoGen template library is stored


the compile time options needed to find the AutoOpts headers


the link options required to access the libopts library

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7.9.5 source distro, AutoOpts not installed

If you will be distributing your project to a system that will build your product but it may not be pre-installed with AutoOpts, you may wish to incorporate the sources for libopts in your project. To do this, I recommend reading the tear-off libopts library ‘README’ that you can find in the ‘pkg/libopts’ directory. You can also examine an example package (blocksort) that incorporates this tear off library in the autogen distribution directory. There is also a web page that describes what you need to do:


Alternatively, you can pull the libopts library sources into a build directory and build it for installation along with your package. This can be done approximately as follows:

tar -xzvf `autoopts-config libsrc`
cd libopts-*
make install

That will install the library, but not the headers or anything else.

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7.10 Configuring your program

AutoOpts supports the notion of presetting the value or state of an option. The values may be obtained either from environment variables or from configuration files (‘rc’ or ‘ini’ files). In order to take advantage of this, the AutoOpts client program must specify these features in the option descriptor file (see section Program Description Attributes) with the rcfile or environrc attributes.

It is also possible to configure your program without using the command line option parsing code. This is done by using only the following four functions from the ‘libopts’ library:


(see section configFileLoad) will parse the contents of a config file and return a pointer to a structure representing the hierarchical value. The values are sorted alphabetically by the value name and all entries with the same name will retain their original order. Insertion sort is used.


(see section optionGetValue) will find the first value within the hierarchy with a name that matches the name passed in.


(see section optionNextValue) will return the next value that follows the value passed in as an argument. If you wish to get all the values for a particular name, you must take note when the name changes.


(see section optionUnloadNested). The pointer passed in must be of type, OPARG_TYPE_HIERARCHY (see the autoopts/options.h header file). configFileLoad will return a tOptionValue pointer of that type. This function will release all the associated memory. AutoOpts generated code uses this function for its own needs. Client code should only call this function with pointers gotten from configFileLoad.

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7.10.1 configuration file presets

Configuration files are enabled by specifying the program attribute homerc (see section Program Description Attributes). Any option not marked with the no-preset attribute may appear in a configuration file. The files loaded are selected both by the homerc entries and, optionally, via a command line option. The first component of the homerc entry may be an environment variable such as $HOME, or it may also be ‘$$’ (two dollar sign characters) to specify the directory of the executable. For example:

homerc = "$$/../share/autogen";

will cause the AutoOpts library to look in the normal autogen datadir relative to the current installation directory for autogen.

The configuration files are processed in the order they are specified by the homerc attribute, so that each new file will normally override the settings of the previous files. This may be overridden by marking some options for immediate action (see section Immediate Action Attributes). Any such options are acted upon in reverse order. The disabled load-opts (‘--no-load-opts’) option, for example, is an immediate action option. Its presence in the last homerc file will prevent the processing of any prior homerc files because its effect is immediate.

Configuration file processing can be completely suppressed by specifying ‘--no-load-opts’ on the command line, or PROGRAM_LOAD_OPTS=no in the environment (if environrc has been specified).

See the Configuration File Format section (see section Configuration File Format) for details on the format of the file.

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7.10.2 Saving the presets into a configuration file

When configuration files are enabled for an application, the user is also provided with an automatically supplied ‘--save-opts’ option. All of the known option state will be written to either the specified output file or, if it is not specified, then to the last specified homerc file.

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7.10.3 Creating a sample configuration file

AutoOpts is shipped with a template named, ‘rc-sample.tpl’. If your option definition file specifies the homerc attribute, then you may invoke ‘autogen’ thus:

autogen -Trc-sample <your-option-def-file>

This will, by default, produce a sample file named, ‘sample-<prog-name>rc’. It will be named differently if you specify your configuration (rc) file name with the rcfile attribute. In that case, the output file will be named, ‘sample-<rcfile-name>’. It will contain all of the program options not marked as no-preset. It will also include the text from the doc attribute.

Doing so with getdefs’ option definitions yields this sample-getdefsrc file. I tend to be wordy in my doc attributes:

# getdefs sample configuration file
## This source file is copyrighted and licensed under the following terms:
#  Copyright (C) 1999-2014 Bruce Korb, all rights reserved.
#  This is free software. It is licensed for use, modification and
#  redistribution under the terms of the GNU General Public License,
#  version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
#  getdefs is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it
#  under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the
#  Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
#  (at your option) any later version.
#  getdefs is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
#  WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
#  See the GNU General Public License for more details.
#  You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along
#  with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

# defs_to_get -- Regexp to look for after the "/*="
# If you want definitions only from a particular category, or even
# with names matching particular patterns, then specify this regular
# expression for the text that must follow the @code{/*=}.
# Example:
#defs_to_get	reg-ex

# subblock -- subblock definition names
# This option is used to create shorthand entries for nested definitions.
# For example, with:
# @table @r
# @item using subblock thus
# @code{--subblock=arg=argname,type,null}
# @item and defining an @code{arg} thus
# @code{arg: this, char *}
# @item will then expand to:
# @code{arg = @{ argname = this; type = "char *"; @};}
# @end table
# The "this, char *" string is separated at the commas, with the
# white space removed.  You may use characters other than commas by
# starting the value string with a punctuation character other than
# a single or double quote character.  You may also omit intermediate
# values by placing the commas next to each other with no intervening
# white space.  For example, "+mumble++yes+" will expand to:
# @*
# @code{arg = @{ argname = mumble; null = "yes"; @};}.
# Example:
#subblock	sub-def

# listattr -- attribute with list of values
# This option is used to create shorthand entries for definitions
# that generally appear several times.  That is, they tend to be
# a list of values.  For example, with:
# @*
# @code{listattr=foo} defined, the text:
# @*
# @code{foo: this, is, a, multi-list} will then expand to:
# @*
# @code{foo = 'this', 'is', 'a', 'multi-list';}
# @*
# The texts are separated by the commas, with the
# white space removed.  You may use characters other than commas by
# starting the value string with a punctuation character other than
# a single or double quote character.
# Example:
#listattr	def

# ordering -- Alphabetize or use named file
# By default, ordering is alphabetical by the entry name.  Use,
# @code{no-ordering} if order is unimportant.  Use @code{ordering}
# with no argument to order without case sensitivity.  Use
# @code{ordering=<file-name>} if chronological order is important.
# getdefs will maintain the text content of @code{file-name}.
# @code{file-name} need not exist.
# Example:
#ordering	file-name

# first_index -- The first index to apply to groups
# This configuration value takes an integer number as its argument.
# By default, the first occurrence of a named definition will have an
# index of zero.  Sometimes, that needs to be a reserved value.  Provide
# this option to specify a different starting point.
# Example:
#first_index	0

# filelist -- Insert source file names into defs
# Inserts the name of each input file into the output definitions.
# If no argument is supplied, the format will be:
# @example
# infile = '%s';
# @end example
# If an argument is supplied, that string will be used for the entry
# name instead of @var{infile}.
# Example:
#filelist	file

# assign -- Global assignments
# The argument to each copy of this option will be inserted into
# the output definitions, with only a semicolon attached.
# Example:
#assign	ag-def

# common_assign -- Assignments common to all blocks
# The argument to each copy of this option will be inserted into
# each output definition, with only a semicolon attached.
# Example:
#common_assign	ag-def

# copy -- File(s) to copy into definitions
# The content of each file named by these options will be inserted into
# the output definitions.
# Example:
#copy	file

# srcfile -- Insert source file name into each def
# Inserts the name of the input file where a definition was found
# into the output definition.
# If no argument is supplied, the format will be:
# @example
# srcfile = '%s';
# @end example
# If an argument is supplied, that string will be used for the entry
# name instead of @var{srcfile}.
# Example:
#srcfile	file

# linenum -- Insert source line number into each def
# Inserts the line number in the input file where a definition
# was found into the output definition.
# If no argument is supplied, the format will be:
# @example
# linenum = '%s';
# @end example
# If an argument is supplied, that string will be used for the entry
# name instead of @var{linenum}.
# Example:
#linenum	def-name

# input -- Input file to search for defs
# All files that are to be searched for definitions must be named on
# the command line or read from @code{stdin}.  If there is only one
# @code{input} option and it is the string, "-", then the input file
# list is read from @code{stdin}.  If a command line argument is not
# an option name and does not contain an assignment operator
# (@code{=}), then it defaults to being an input file name.
# At least one input file must be specified.
# Example:
#input	src-file

# output -- Output file to open
# If you are not sending the output to an AutoGen process,
# you may name an output file instead.
# Example:
#output	file

# autogen -- Invoke AutoGen with defs
# This is the default output mode.  Specifying @code{no-autogen} is
# equivalent to @code{output=-}.  If you supply an argument to this
# option, that program will be started as if it were AutoGen and
# its standard in will be set to the output definitions of this program.
# Example:
#autogen	ag-cmd

# template -- Template Name
# Specifies the template name to be used for generating the final output.
# Example:
#template	file

# agarg -- AutoGen Argument
# This is a pass-through argument.  It allows you to specify any
# arbitrary argument to be passed to AutoGen.
# Example:
#agarg	ag-opt

# base_name -- Base name for output file(s)
# When output is going to AutoGen, a base name must either be supplied
# or derived.  If this option is not supplied, then it is taken from
# the @code{template} option.  If that is not provided either, then
# it is set to the base name of the current directory.
# Example:
#base_name	name

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7.10.4 environment variable presets

If the AutoOpts client program specifies environrc in its option descriptor file, then environment variables will be used for presetting option state. Variables will be looked for that are named, PROGRAM_OPTNAME and PROGRAM. PROGRAM is the upper cased C-name of the program, and OPTNAME is the upper cased C-name of a specific option. (The C-names are the regular names with all special characters converted to underscores (_).)

Option specific environment variables are processed after (and thus take precedence over) the contents of the PROGRAM environment variable. The option argument string for these options takes on the string value gotten from the environment. Consequently, you can only have one instance of the OPTNAME.

If a particular option may be disabled, then its disabled state is indicated by setting the PROGRAM_OPTNAME value to the disablement prefix. So, for example, if the disablement prefix were dont, then you can disable the optname option by setting the PROGRAM_OPTNAME’ environment variable to dont. See section Common Option Attributes.

The PROGRAM environment string is tokenized and parsed much like a command line. Doubly quoted strings have backslash escapes processed the same way they are processed in C program constant strings. Singly quoted strings are pretty raw in that backslashes are honored before other backslashes, apostrophes, newlines and cr/newline pairs. The options must be introduced with hyphens in the same way as the command line.

Note that not all options may be preset. Options that are specified with the no-preset attribute and the ‘--help’, ‘--more-help’, and ‘--save-opts’ auto-supported options may not be preset.

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7.10.5 Config file only example

If for some reason it is difficult or unworkable to integrate configuration file processing with command line option parsing, the libopts (see section libopts External Procedures) library can still be used to process configuration files. Below is a Hello, World! greeting program that tries to load a configuration file ‘hello.conf’ to see if it should use an alternate greeting or to personalize the salutation.

#include <config.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <pwd.h>
#include <string.h>
#ifdef   HAVE_UNISTD_H
#include <unistd.h>
#include <autoopts/options.h>
int main(int argc, char ** argv) {
  char const * greeting = "Hello";
  char const * greeted  = "World";
  tOptionValue const * pOV = configFileLoad("hello.conf");

  if (pOV != NULL) {
    const tOptionValue* pGetV = optionGetValue(pOV, "greeting");

    if (  (pGetV != NULL)
       && (pGetV->valType == OPARG_TYPE_STRING))
      greeting = strdup(pGetV->v.strVal);

    pGetV = optionGetValue(pOV, "personalize");
    if (pGetV != NULL) {
      struct passwd * pwe = getpwuid(getuid());
      if (pwe != NULL)
        greeted = strdup(pwe->pw_gecos);

    optionUnloadNested(pOV); /* deallocate config data */
  printf("%s, %s!\n", greeting, greeted);
  return 0;

With that text in a file named “hello.c”, this short script:

cc -o hello hello.c `autoopts-config cflags ldflags`
echo 'greeting Buzz off' > hello.conf
echo personalize > hello.conf

will produce the following output:

Hello, World!
Buzz off, World!
Hello, Bruce Korb,,,!

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7.11 Configuration File Format

The configuration file is designed to associate names and values, much like an AutoGen Definition File (see section Definitions File). Unfortunately, the file formats are different. Specifically, AutoGen Definitions provide for simpler methods for the precise control of a value string and provides for dynamically computed content. Configuration files have some established traditions in their layout. So, they are different, even though they do both allow for a single name to be associated with multiple values and they both allow for hierarchical values.

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7.11.1 assigning a string value to a configurable

The basic syntax is a name followed by a value on a single line. They are separated from each other by either white space, a colon (:) or an equal sign (=). The colon or equal sign may optionally be surrounded by additional white space. If more than one value line is needed, a backslash (\) may be used to continue the value. The backslash (but not the newline) will be erased. Leading and trailing white space is always stripped from the value.

Fundamentally, it looks like this:

name  value for that name
name = another \
     multi-line value \
     for that name.
name: a *third* value for name

If you need more control over the content of the value, you may enclose the value in XML style brackets:

<name>value </name>

Within these brackets you need not (must not) continue the value data with backslashes. You may also select the string formation rules to use, just add the attribute after the name, thus: <name keep>.


This mode will keep all text between the brackets and not strip any white space.


This mode strips leading and trailing white space, but not do any quote processing. This is the default and need not be specified.


The text is trimmed of leading and trailing white space and XML encodings are processed. These encodings are slightly expanded over the XML specification. They are specified with an ampersand followed by a value name or numeric value and then a semicolon:


These are all per fairly standad HTML and/or XML encodings. Additionally:


The ASCII back space character.


The ASCII form feed character.


The ASCII horizontal (normal) tab character.


The ASCII carriage return character.


The ASCII vertical tab character.


The ASCII alarm bell character.


The ASCII new line character.


The ASCII space character. Normally not necessary, but if you want to preserve leading or trailing space characters, then use this.

And here is an example of an XML-styled value:

<name cooked>
    This is&nl;&ht;another multi-line
&ht;string example.

The string value associated with name will be exactly the text enclosed in quotes with the encoded characters cooked as you would expect (three text lines with the last line not ending with a newline, but ending with a period).

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7.11.2 integer values

A name can be specified as having an integer value. To do this, you must use the XML-ish format and specify a type attribute for the name:

<name type=integer> 1234 </name>

Boolean, enumeration and set membership types will be added as time allows. type=string is also supported, but also is the default.

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7.11.3 hierarchical values

In order to specify a hierarchical value, you *must* use XML-styled formatting, specifying a type that is shorter and easier to spell:

<structured-name type=nested>

The ellipsis may be filled with any legal configuration file name/value assignments.

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7.11.4 configuration file directives

The <? marker indicates an XML directive. There is only one directive supported: program sectioning, though two syntaxes are supported.

If, for example, you have a collection of programs that work closely together and, likely, have a common set of options, these programs may use a single, sectioned, configuration file. The file may be sectioned in either of two ways. The two ways may not be intermixed in a single configuration file. All text before the first segmentation line is processed, then only the segment that applies:

<?auto-options ...>

The ... ellipsis may contain AutoOpts option processing options. Currently, that consists of one or both of:


to indicate GNU-standard or AutoOpts-standard layout of usage and version information, and/or


to indicate whether the available options should be listed when an invalid option appears on the command line.

Anything else will be silently ignored.

<?program prog-name>

The <? marker indicates an XML directive. The file is partitioned by these lines and the options are processed for the prog-name program only before the first <?program directive and the program section with a matching program name.


This is basically an alias for <?program prog-name>, except that the program name must be upper cased and segmented only with underscores.

Segmentation does not apply if the config file is being parsed with the configFileLoad(3AutoOpts) function.

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7.11.5 comments in the configuration file

Comments are lines beginning with a hash mark (#), XML-style comments (<!-- arbitrary text -->), and unrecognized XML directives.

# this is a comment
<!-- this is also
     a comment -->
<?this is
  a bad comment ;->

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7.12 AutoOpts for Shell Scripts

AutoOpts may be used with shell scripts either by automatically creating a complete program that will process command line options and pass back the results to the invoking shell by issuing shell variable assignment commands, or it may be used to generate portable shell code that can be inserted into your script.

The functionality of these features, of course, is somewhat constrained compared with the normal program facilities. Specifically, you cannot invoke callout procedures with either of these methods. Additionally, if you generate a shell script to do the parsing:

  1. You cannot obtain options from configuration files.
  2. You cannot obtain options from environment variables.
  3. You cannot save the option state to an option file.
  4. Option conflict/requirement verification is disabled.

Both of these methods are enabled by running AutoGen on the definitions file with the additional main procedure attribute:

main = { main-type = shell-process; };


main = { main-type = shell-parser; };

If you do not supply a proc-to-call, it will default to optionPutShell. That will produce a program that will process the options and generate shell text for the invoking shell to interpret (see section Parsing with an Executable). If you supply the name, optionParseShell, then you will have a program that will generate a shell script that can parse the options (see section Parsing with a Portable Script). If you supply a different procedure name, you will have to provide that routine and it may do whatever you like.

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7.12.1 Parsing with an Executable

The following commands are approximately all that is needed to build a shell script command line option parser from an option definition file:

autogen -L <opt-template-dir> test-errors.def
cc -o test-errors -L <opt-lib-dir> -I <opt-include-dir> \
        -DTEST_PROGRAM_OPTS test-errors.c -lopts

The resulting program can then be used within your shell script as follows:

eval `./test-errors "$@"`
if [ -z "${OPTION_CT}" ] ; then exit 1 ; fi
test ${OPTION_CT} -gt 0 && shift ${OPTION_CT}

Here is the usage output example from AutoOpts error handling tests. The option definition has argument reordering enabled:

exit 0

Using the invocation,

  test-errors operand1 -s first operand2 -X -- -s operand3

you get the following output for your shell script to evaluate:

export OPTION_CT
set -- 'operand1' 'operand2' '-s' 'operand3'

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7.12.2 Parsing with a Portable Script

If you had used test-main = optionParseShell instead, then you can, at this point, merely run the program and it will write the parsing script to standard out. You may also provide this program with command line options to specify the shell script file to create or edit, and you may specify the shell program to use on the first shell script line. That program’s usage text would look something like the following and the script parser itself would be very verbose:

genshellopt - Generate Shell Option Processing Script - Ver. 1
Usage:  genshellopt [ -<flag> [<val>] | --<name>[{=| }<val>] ]...
  Flg Arg Option-Name    Description
   -o Str script         Output Script File
   -s Str shell          Shell name (follows "#!" magic)
                                - disabled as '--no-shell'
                                - enabled by default
   -v opt version        output version information and exit
   -? no  help           display extended usage information and exit
   -! no  more-help      extended usage information passed thru pager

Options are specified by doubled hyphens and their name or by a single
hyphen and the flag character.
Note that 'shell' is only useful if the output file does not already exist.
If it does, then the shell name and optional first argument will be
extracted from the script file.
If the script file already exists and contains Automated Option Processing
text, the second line of the file through the ending tag will be replaced
by the newly generated text.  The first '#!' line will be regenerated.
Packaged by Bruce (2014-08-30)
Report genshellopt bugs to bkorb@gnu.org

= = = = = = = =

This incarnation of genshell will produce
a shell script to parse the options for getdefs:

getdefs (GNU AutoGen) - AutoGen Definition Extraction Tool - Ver. 1.5
Usage:  getdefs [ <option-name>[{=| }<val>] ]...
   Arg Option-Name    Description
   Str defs-to-get    Regexp to look for after the "/*="
   Str subblock       subblock definition names
   Str listattr       attribute with list of values
   opt ordering       Alphabetize or use named file
   Num first-index    The first index to apply to groups
   opt filelist       Insert source file names into defs
   Str assign         Global assignments
   Str common-assign  Assignments common to all blocks
   Str copy           File(s) to copy into definitions
   opt srcfile        Insert source file name into each def
   opt linenum        Insert source line number into each def
   Str input          Input file to search for defs
   Str output         Output file to open
   opt autogen        Invoke AutoGen with defs
   Str template       Template Name
   Str agarg          AutoGen Argument
   Str base-name      Base name for output file(s)
   opt version        output version information and exit
   no  help           display extended usage information and exit
   no  more-help      extended usage information passed thru pager
   opt save-opts      save the option state to a config file
   Str load-opts      load options from a config file

All arguments are named options.
If no 'input' argument is provided or is set to simply "-", and if 'stdin'
is not a 'tty', then the list of input files will be read from 'stdin'.
Packaged by Bruce (2014-08-30)
Report getdefs bugs to bkorb@gnu.org

Resulting in the following script:

#! /bin/sh
# # # # # # # # # # -- do not modify this marker --
 OF /u/bkorb/ag/ag/doc/ag-texi-14536.d/.ag-r4JrVV/genshellopt.sh
#  From here to the next `-- do not modify this marker --',
#  the text has been generated Saturday August 30, 2014 at 10:37:59 AM PDT
#  From the GETDEFS option definitions
GETDEFS_LONGUSAGE_TEXT='getdefs (GNU AutoGen) - AutoGen Definition Extraction Tool - Ver. 1.5
Usage:  getdefs [ <option-name>[{=| }<val>] ]...

Specify which definitions are of interest and what to say about them:

   Arg Option-Name    Description
   Str defs-to-get    Regexp to look for after the "/*="
   Str subblock       subblock definition names
                                - may appear multiple times
   Str listattr       attribute with list of values
                                - may appear multiple times

specify how to number the definitions:

   Arg Option-Name    Description
   opt ordering       Alphabetize or use named file
                                - disabled as '\''--no-ordering'\''
                                - enabled by default
   Num first-index    The first index to apply to groups

Definition insertion options:

   Arg Option-Name    Description
   opt filelist       Insert source file names into defs
   Str assign         Global assignments
                                - may appear multiple times
   Str common-assign  Assignments common to all blocks
                                - may appear multiple times
   Str copy           File(s) to copy into definitions
                                - may appear multiple times
   opt srcfile        Insert source file name into each def
   opt linenum        Insert source line number into each def

specify which files to search for markers:

   Arg Option-Name    Description
   Str input          Input file to search for defs
                                - may appear multiple times
                                - default option for unnamed options

Definition output disposition options::

   Arg Option-Name    Description
   Str output         Output file to open
                                - an alternate for '\''autogen'\''
   opt autogen        Invoke AutoGen with defs
                                - disabled as '\''--no-autogen'\''
                                - enabled by default
   Str template       Template Name
   Str agarg          AutoGen Argument
                                - prohibits the option '\''output'\''
                                - may appear multiple times
   Str base-name      Base name for output file(s)
                                - prohibits the option '\''output'\''

Version, usage and configuration options:

   Arg Option-Name    Description
   opt version        output version information and exit
   no  help           display extended usage information and exit
   no  more-help      extended usage information passed thru pager
   opt save-opts      save the option state to a config file
   Str load-opts      load options from a config file
                                - disabled as '\''--no-load-opts'\''
                                - may appear multiple times

All arguments are named options.
If no '\''input'\'' argument is provided or is set to simply "-", and if '\''stdin'\''
is not a '\''tty'\'', then the list of input files will be read from '\''stdin'\''.

The following option preset mechanisms are supported:
 - reading file /dev/null
This program extracts AutoGen definitions from a list of source files.
Definitions are delimited by '\''/*=<entry-type> <entry-name>\n'\'' and '\''=*/\n'\''.
Packaged by Bruce (2014-08-30)
Report getdefs bugs to bkorb@gnu.org'

GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT='getdefs (GNU AutoGen) - AutoGen Definition Extraction Tool - Ver. 1.5
Usage:  getdefs [ <option-name>[{=| }<val>] ]...
   Arg Option-Name    Description
   Str defs-to-get    Regexp to look for after the "/*="
   Str subblock       subblock definition names
   Str listattr       attribute with list of values
   opt ordering       Alphabetize or use named file
   Num first-index    The first index to apply to groups
   opt filelist       Insert source file names into defs
   Str assign         Global assignments
   Str common-assign  Assignments common to all blocks
   Str copy           File(s) to copy into definitions
   opt srcfile        Insert source file name into each def
   opt linenum        Insert source line number into each def
   Str input          Input file to search for defs
   Str output         Output file to open
   opt autogen        Invoke AutoGen with defs
   Str template       Template Name
   Str agarg          AutoGen Argument
   Str base-name      Base name for output file(s)
   opt version        output version information and exit
   no  help           display extended usage information and exit
   no  more-help      extended usage information passed thru pager
   opt save-opts      save the option state to a config file
   Str load-opts      load options from a config file

All arguments are named options.
If no '\''input'\'' argument is provided or is set to simply "-", and if '\''stdin'\''
is not a '\''tty'\'', then the list of input files will be read from '\''stdin'\''.
Packaged by Bruce (2014-08-30)
Report getdefs bugs to bkorb@gnu.org'


if test -z "${GETDEFS_SUBBLOCK}"

if test -z "${GETDEFS_LISTATTR}"




if test -z "${GETDEFS_ASSIGN}"


if test -z "${GETDEFS_COPY}"



if test -z "${GETDEFS_INPUT}"




if test -z "${GETDEFS_AGARG}"


while [ $# -gt 0 ]
        OPT_CODE=`echo "X${OPT_ARG}"|sed 's/^X-*//'`
        case "${OPT_CODE}" in *=* )
            OPT_ARG_VAL=`echo "${OPT_CODE}"|sed 's/^[^=]*=//'`
            OPT_CODE=`echo "${OPT_CODE}"|sed 's/=.*$//'` ;; esac
        case "${OPT_CODE}" in
        'de' | \
        'def' | \
        'defs' | \
        'defs-' | \
        'defs-t' | \
        'defs-to' | \
        'defs-to-' | \
        'defs-to-g' | \
        'defs-to-ge' | \
        'defs-to-get' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_DEFS_TO_GET}" ] && ${GETDEFS_DEFS_TO_GET_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate DEFS_TO_GET option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2

        'su' | \
        'sub' | \
        'subb' | \
        'subbl' | \
        'subblo' | \
        'subbloc' | \
        'subblock' )

        'li' | \
        'lis' | \
        'list' | \
        'lista' | \
        'listat' | \
        'listatt' | \
        'listattr' )

        'or' | \
        'ord' | \
        'orde' | \
        'order' | \
        'orderi' | \
        'orderin' | \
        'ordering' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_ORDERING}" ] && ${GETDEFS_ORDERING_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate ORDERING option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            eval GETDEFS_ORDERING${OPT_ELEMENT}=true

        'no-' | \
        'no-o' | \
        'no-or' | \
        'no-ord' | \
        'no-orde' | \
        'no-order' | \
        'no-orderi' | \
        'no-orderin' | \
        'no-ordering' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_ORDERING}" ] && ${GETDEFS_ORDERING_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate ORDERING option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            export GETDEFS_ORDERING

        'fi' | \
        'fir' | \
        'firs' | \
        'first' | \
        'first-' | \
        'first-i' | \
        'first-in' | \
        'first-ind' | \
        'first-inde' | \
        'first-index' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_FIRST_INDEX}" ] && ${GETDEFS_FIRST_INDEX_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate FIRST_INDEX option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2

        'fi' | \
        'fil' | \
        'file' | \
        'filel' | \
        'fileli' | \
        'filelis' | \
        'filelist' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_FILELIST}" ] && ${GETDEFS_FILELIST_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate FILELIST option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            eval GETDEFS_FILELIST${OPT_ELEMENT}=true

        'as' | \
        'ass' | \
        'assi' | \
        'assig' | \
        'assign' )
            GETDEFS_ASSIGN_CT=`expr ${GETDEFS_ASSIGN_CT} + 1`

        'co' | \
        'com' | \
        'comm' | \
        'commo' | \
        'common' | \
        'common-' | \
        'common-a' | \
        'common-as' | \
        'common-ass' | \
        'common-assi' | \
        'common-assig' | \
        'common-assign' )

        'co' | \
        'cop' | \
        'copy' )
            GETDEFS_COPY_CT=`expr ${GETDEFS_COPY_CT} + 1`

        'sr' | \
        'src' | \
        'srcf' | \
        'srcfi' | \
        'srcfil' | \
        'srcfile' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_SRCFILE}" ] && ${GETDEFS_SRCFILE_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate SRCFILE option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            eval GETDEFS_SRCFILE${OPT_ELEMENT}=true
            export GETDEFS_SRCFILE${OPT_ELEMENT}

        'li' | \
        'lin' | \
        'line' | \
        'linen' | \
        'linenu' | \
        'linenum' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_LINENUM}" ] && ${GETDEFS_LINENUM_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate LINENUM option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            eval GETDEFS_LINENUM${OPT_ELEMENT}=true
            export GETDEFS_LINENUM${OPT_ELEMENT}

        'in' | \
        'inp' | \
        'inpu' | \
        'input' )
            GETDEFS_INPUT_CT=`expr ${GETDEFS_INPUT_CT} + 1`

        'ou' | \
        'out' | \
        'outp' | \
        'outpu' | \
        'output' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_OUTPUT}" ] && ${GETDEFS_OUTPUT_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate OUTPUT option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2

        'au' | \
        'aut' | \
        'auto' | \
        'autog' | \
        'autoge' | \
        'autogen' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_AUTOGEN}" ] && ${GETDEFS_AUTOGEN_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate AUTOGEN option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            eval GETDEFS_AUTOGEN${OPT_ELEMENT}=true
            export GETDEFS_AUTOGEN${OPT_ELEMENT}

        'no-' | \
        'no-a' | \
        'no-au' | \
        'no-aut' | \
        'no-auto' | \
        'no-autog' | \
        'no-autoge' | \
        'no-autogen' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_AUTOGEN}" ] && ${GETDEFS_AUTOGEN_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate AUTOGEN option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2
            export GETDEFS_AUTOGEN

        'te' | \
        'tem' | \
        'temp' | \
        'templ' | \
        'templa' | \
        'templat' | \
        'template' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_TEMPLATE}" ] && ${GETDEFS_TEMPLATE_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate TEMPLATE option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2

        'ag' | \
        'aga' | \
        'agar' | \
        'agarg' )
            GETDEFS_AGARG_CT=`expr ${GETDEFS_AGARG_CT} + 1`

        'ba' | \
        'bas' | \
        'base' | \
        'base-' | \
        'base-n' | \
        'base-na' | \
        'base-nam' | \
        'base-name' )
            if [ -n "${GETDEFS_BASE_NAME}" ] && ${GETDEFS_BASE_NAME_set} ; then
                echo 'Error:  duplicate BASE_NAME option'
                echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                exit 1
            fi >&2

        've' | \
        'ver' | \
        'vers' | \
        'versi' | \
        'versio' | \
        'version' )
            echo "$GETDEFS_LONGUSAGE_TEXT"
            exit 0

        'he' | \
        'hel' | \
        'help' )
            echo "$GETDEFS_LONGUSAGE_TEXT"
            exit 0

        'mo' | \
        'mor' | \
        'more' | \
        'more-' | \
        'more-h' | \
        'more-he' | \
        'more-hel' | \
        'more-help' )
            echo "$GETDEFS_LONGUSAGE_TEXT" | ${PAGER-more}
            exit 0

        'sa' | \
        'sav' | \
        'save' | \
        'save-' | \
        'save-o' | \
        'save-op' | \
        'save-opt' | \
        'save-opts' )
            echo 'Warning:  Cannot save options files' >&2

        'lo' | \
        'loa' | \
        'load' | \
        'load-' | \
        'load-o' | \
        'load-op' | \
        'load-opt' | \
        'load-opts' )
            echo 'Warning:  Cannot load options files' >&2

        'no-' | \
        'no-l' | \
        'no-lo' | \
        'no-loa' | \
        'no-load' | \
        'no-load-' | \
        'no-load-o' | \
        'no-load-op' | \
        'no-load-opt' | \
        'no-load-opts' )
            echo 'Warning:  Cannot suppress the loading of options files' >&2

        * )
            echo Unknown option: "${OPT_CODE}" >&2
            echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT" >&2
            exit 1
        case "${OPT_ARG_NEEDED}" in
        NO )
        YES )
            if [ -z "${OPT_ARG_VAL}" ]
                if [ $# -eq 0 ]
                    echo No argument provided for ${OPT_NAME} option
                    echo "$GETDEFS_USAGE_TEXT"
                    exit 1
                fi >&2
        OK )
            if [ -z "${OPT_ARG_VAL}" ] && [ $# -gt 0 ]
                case "${OPT_ARG}" in -* ) ;; * )
                    OPT_ARG=$1 ;; esac
    if [ -n "${OPT_ARG_VAL}" ]
        export GETDEFS_${OPT_NAME}${OPT_ELEMENT}
unset OPT_PROCESS || :
unset OPT_ELEMENT || :
unset OPT_ARG     || :
unset OPT_ARG_NEEDED || :
unset OPT_NAME    || :
unset OPT_CODE    || :
unset OPT_ARG_VAL || :

# # # # # # # # # #
# # # # # # # # # # -- do not modify this marker --

env | grep '^GETDEFS_'

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.13 Automated Info Docs

AutoOpts provides two templates for producing ‘.texi’ documentation. ‘agtexi-cmd.tpl’ for the invoking section, and ‘aginfo3.tpl’ for describing exported library functions and macros.

For both types of documents, the documentation level is selected by passing a ‘-DLEVEL=<level-name>’ argument to AutoGen when you build the document. (See the example invocation below.)

Two files will be produced, a ‘.texi’ file and a ‘.menu’ file. You should include the text in the ‘.menu’ file in a ‘@menu’ list, either with ‘@include’-ing it or just copying text. The ‘.texi’ file should be ‘@include’-ed where the invoking section belongs in your document.

The ‘.texi’ file will contain an introductory paragraph, a menu and a subordinate section for the invocation usage and for each documented option. The introductory paragraph is normally the boiler plate text, along the lines of:

This chapter documents the @file{AutoOpts} generated usage text
and option meanings for the @file{your-program} program.


These are the publicly exported procedures from the libname library.
Any other functions mentioned in the header file are for the private use
of the library.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.13.1 invoking info docs

Using the option definitions for an AutoOpt client program, the ‘agtexi-cmd.tpl’ template will produce texinfo text that documents the invocation of your program. The text emitted is designed to be included in the full texinfo document for your product. It is not a stand-alone document. The usage text for the autogen help/usage (‘--help’), getdefs help/usage (‘help’) and columns help/usage (‘--help’) programs, are included in this document and are all generated using this template.

If your program’s option definitions include a ‘prog-info-descrip’ section, then that text will replace the boilerplate introductory paragraph.

These files are produced by invoking the following command:

autogen -L ${prefix}/share/autogen -Tagtexi-cmd.tpl \
        -DLEVEL=section your-opts.def

Where ‘${prefix}’ is the AutoGen installation prefix and ‘your-opts.def’ is the name of your product’s option definition file.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.13.2 library info docs

The texinfo doc for libraries is derived from mostly the same information as is used for producing man pages See section library man pages. The main difference is that there is only one output file and the individual functions are referenced from a texi menu. There is also a small difference in the global attributes used:

lib_descriptionA description of the library. This text appears before the menu. If not provided, the standard boilerplate version will be inserted.
see_alsoThe SEE ALSO functionality is not supported for the ‘texinfo’ documentation, so any see_also attribute will be ignored.

These files are produced by invoking the following commands:

getdefs linenum srcfile template=aginfo3.tpl output=libexport.def \

autogen -L ${prefix}/share/autogen -DLEVEL=section libexport.def

Where ‘${prefix}’ is the AutoGen installation prefix and ‘libexport.def’ is some name that suits you.

An example of this can be seen in this document, See section libopts External Procedures.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.14 Automated Man Pages

AutoOpts provides two templates for producing man pages. The command (‘man1’) pages are derived from the options definition file, and the library (‘man3’) pages are derived from stylized comments (see section Invoking getdefs).

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.14.1 command line man pages

Using the option definitions for an AutoOpts client program, the ‘agman-cmd.tpl’ template will produce an nroff document suitable for use as a ‘man(1)’ page document for a command line command. The description section of the document is either the ‘prog-man-descrip’ text, if present, or the ‘detail’ text.

Each option in the option definitions file is fully documented in its usage. This includes all the information documented above for each option (see section Option Attributes), plus the ‘doc’ attribute is appended. Since the ‘doc’ text is presumed to be designed for texinfo documentation, sed is used to convert some constructs from texi to nroff-for-man-pages. Specifically,

convert @code, @var and @samp into \fB...\fP phrases
convert @file into \fI...\fP phrases
Remove the '@' prefix from curly braces
Indent example regions
Delete the example commands
Replace ‘end example’ command with ".br"
Replace the ‘@*’ command with ".br"

This document is produced by invoking the following command:

autogen -L ${prefix}/share/autogen -Tagman-cmd.tpl options.def

Where ‘${prefix}’ is the AutoGen installation prefix and ‘options.def’ is the name of your product’s option definition file. I do not use this very much, so any feedback or improvements would be greatly appreciated.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.14.2 library man pages

Two global definitions are required, and then one library man page is produced for each export_func definition that is found. It is generally convenient to place these definitions as ‘getdefs’ comments (see section Invoking getdefs) near the procedure definition, but they may also be a separate AutoGen definitions file (see section Definitions File). Each function will be cross referenced with their sister functions in a ‘SEE ALSO’ section. A global see_also definition will be appended to this cross referencing text.

The two global definitions required are:

libraryThis is the name of your library, without the ‘lib’ prefix. The AutoOpts library is named ‘libopts.so...’, so the library attribute would have the value opts.
headerGenerally, using a library with a compiled program entails #include-ing a header file. Name that header with this attribute. In the case of AutoOpts, it is generated and will vary based on the name of the option definition file. Consequently, ‘your-opts.h’ is specified.

The export_func definition should contain the following attributes:

nameThe name of the procedure the library user may call.
whatA brief sentence describing what the procedure does.
docA detailed description of what the procedure does. It may ramble on for as long as necessary to properly describe it.
errA short description of how errors are handled.
ret_typeThe data type returned by the procedure. Omit this for void procedures.
ret_descDescribe what the returned value is, if needed.
privateIf specified, the function will not be documented. This is used, for example, to produce external declarations for functions that are not available for public use, but are used in the generated text.
argThis is a compound attribute that contains:
arg_typeThe data type of the argument.
arg_nameA short name for it.
arg_descA brief description.

As a ‘getdefs’ comment, this would appear something like this:

/*=--subblock=arg=arg_type,arg_name,arg_desc =*/
 * library: opts
 * header:  your-opts.h
/*=export_func optionProcess
 * what: this is the main option processing routine
 * arg:  + tOptions* + pOpts + program options descriptor +
 * arg:  + int       + argc  + program arg count  +
 * arg:  + char**    + argv  + program arg vector +
 * ret_type:  int
 * ret_desc:  the count of the arguments processed
 * doc:  This is what it does.
 * err:  When it can't, it does this.

Note the subblock and library comments. subblock is an embedded ‘getdefs’ option (see getdefs subblock) that tells it how to parse the arg attribute. The library and header entries are global definitions that apply to all the documented functions.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.15 Using getopt(3C)

There is a template named, ‘getopt.tpl’ that is distributed with AutoOpts. Using that template instead of ‘options.tpl’ will produce completely independent source code that will parse command line options. It will utilize either the standard getopt(3C) or the GNU getopt_long(3GNU) function to drive the parsing. Which is used is selected by the presence or absence of the long-opts program attribute. It will save you from being dependent upon the libopts library and it produces code ready for internationalization. However, it also carries with it some limitations on the use of AutoOpts features and some requirements on the build environment.

PLEASE NOTE: in processing the option definitions to produce the usage text, it is necessary to compile some generated code in a temporary directory. That means that all the include directories needed to compile the code must be full path names and not relative directory names. “.” is a relative directory name. To specify “-I.” in the CFLAGS environment variable, you must expand it. For example, use:


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.15.1 getopt feature limitations

This list of limitations is relative to the full list of AutoOpts supported features, See section AutoOpts Features.

  1. You cannot automatically take advantage of environment variable options or automated parsing of configuration files (rc or ini files). Consequently, the resulting code does not support ‘--load-opts’ or ‘--save-opts’ options automatically.
  2. You cannot use set membership, enumerated, range checked or stacked argument type options. In fact, you cannot use anything that depends upon the libopts library. You are constrained to options that take string arguments, though you may handle the option argument with a callback procedure.
  3. Special disablement and/or enablement prefixes are not recognized.
  4. Option coordination with external libraries will not work.
  5. Every option must be settable because the emitted code depends upon the SET_OPT_XXX macros having been defined. Specify this as a global (program) attribute.
  6. You must specify a main procedure attribute (see section Generating main procedures). The ‘getopt.tpl’ template depends upon being able to compile the traditional .c file into a program and get it to emit the usage text.
  7. For the same reason, the traditional option parsing table code must be emitted before the ‘getopt.tpl’ template gets expanded.
  8. The usage text is, therefore, statically defined.

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

7.15.2 getopt build requirements

You must supply some compile and link options via environment variables.


In case the option definition file lives in a different directory.


Any special flags required to compile. The flags from autoopts-config cflags will be included automatically. Since the creation of the option parsing code includes creating a program that prints out help text, if it is necessary to include files from various directories to compile that program, you will need to specify those directories with ‘-Idirpath’ text in the CFLAGS. Some experimentation may be necessary in that case.

NOTE: the ‘-Idirpath’ text is only needed if your option callback functions include code that require additional #include directives.


Any special flags required to link. The flags from autoopts-config ldflags will be included automatically. This is required only if additional link flags for the help text emission program might be needed.


This is needed only if cc cannot be found in $PATH (or it is not the one you want).

To use this, set the exported environment variables and specify getopt as the default template in your option definitions file (see section The Identification Definition). You will have four new files. Assuming your definitions were in a file named ‘myprog-opts.def’ and your program name was specified as ‘progname’, the resulting files would be created: ‘myprog-opts.h’, ‘myprog-opts.c’, ‘getopt-progname.h’ and ‘getopt-progname.c’. You must compile and link both ‘.c’ files into your program. If there are link failures, then you are using AutoOpts features that require the ‘libopts’ library. You must remove these features, See section getopt feature limitations.

These generated files depend upon configure defines to work correctly. Therefore, you must specify a config-header attribute (see section Programming Details) and ensure it has #defines for either HAVE_STDINT_H or HAVE_INTTYPES_H; either HAVE_SYS_LIMITS_H or HAVE_LIMITS_H; and HAVE_SYSEXITS_H, if the ‘sysexits.h’ header is available. The required header files for these defines are, respectively, the ‘/usr/include’ files named:

The following header files must also exist on the build platform:

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7.16 Internationalizing AutoOpts

The generated code for AutoOpts will enable and disable the translation of AutoOpts run time messages. If ENABLE_NLS is defined at compile time and no-xlate has been not set to the value anything, then the _() macro may be used to specify a translation function. If undefined, it will default to gettext(3GNU). This define will also enable a callback function that optionProcess invokes at the beginning of option processing. The AutoOpts libopts library will always check for this compiled with NLS flag, so libopts does not need to be specially compiled. The strings returned by the translation function will be strdup(3)-ed and kept. They will not be re-translated, even if the locale changes, but they will also not be dependent upon reused or unmappable memory.

You should also ensure that the ATTRIBUTE_FORMAT_ARG() gets #define-ed to something useful. There is an autoconf macro named AG_COMPILE_FORMAT_ARG in ‘ag_macros.m4’ that will set it appropriately for you. If you do not do this, then translated formatting strings may trigger GCC compiler warnings.

To internationalize option processing, you should first internationalize your program. Then, the option processing strings can be added to your translation text by processing the AutoOpts-generated ‘my-opts.c’ file and adding the distributed ‘po/usage-txt.pot’ file. (Also by extracting the strings yourself from the ‘usage-txt.h’ file.) When you call optionProcess, all of the user visible AutoOpts strings will be passed through the localization procedure established with the _() preprocessing macro.

All of this is dis-abled if you specify the global attribute no-xlate to anything.

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7.17 Naming Conflicts

AutoOpts generates a header file that contains many C preprocessing macros and several external names. For the most part, they begin with either opt_ or option, or else they end with _opt. If this happens to conflict with other macros you are using, or if you are compiling multiple option sets in the same compilation unit, the conflicts can be avoided. You may specify an external name prefix (see section Program Description Attributes) for all of the names generated for each set of option definitions.

Among these macros, several take an option name as a macro argument. Sometimes, this will inconveniently conflict. For example, if you specify an option named, debug, the emitted code will presume that DEBUG is not a preprocessing name. Or also, if you are building on a Windows platform, you may find that MicroSoft has usurped a number of user space names in its header files. Consequently, you will get a preprocessing error if you use, for example, HAVE_OPT(DEBUG) or HAVE_OPT(INTERNAL) (see section HAVE_OPT( <NAME> ) - Have this option?) in your code. You may trigger an obvious warning for such conflicts by specifying the guard-option-names attribute (see section Program Description Attributes). That emitted code will also #undef-ine the conflicting name.

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7.18 All Attribute Names

This is the list of all the option attributes used in the various option processing templates. There are several flavors of attributes, and these are not distinguished here.

This list is derived by running many example option definitions through the option generation and man page templates and noting which attributes are actually used. There may be a few that are used but not exercised in my testing. If so, I need to ferret those out and test them, too.

addtogroup         aliases          allow_errors  arg_default
arg_name           arg_optional     arg_range     arg_type
argument           author           call_proc     cmd_section
comment_char       concept          config_header copyright
date               default          deprecated    descrip
detail             die_code         disable       disable_load
disable_save       doc              doc_section   doc_sub
doc_sub_cmd        documentation    ds_format     ds_text
ds_type            eaddr            enable        enabled
environrc          equivalence      exit_desc     exit_name
explain            export           extract_code  field
file_fail_code     flag             flag_code     flag_proc
flags_cant         flags_must       full_usage    gnu_usage
guard_option_names handler_proc     handler_type  help_type
help_value         home_rc          homerc        ifdef
ifndef             immed_disable    immediate     include
interleaved        keyword          lib_name      library
load_opts_value    long_opts        main_fini     main_init
main_type          max              min           more_help_value
must_set           name             no_command    no_libopts
no_misuse_usage    no_preset        no_xlate      omit_texi
omitted_usage      open_file        opt_state     option_format
option_info        owner            package       prefix
prefix_enum        preserve_case    prog_descrip  prog_info_descrip
prog_man_descrip   prog_name        prog_title    rcfile
reorder_args       reset_value      resettable    save_opts_value
scaled             set_desc         set_index     settable
short_usage        stack_arg        stdin_input   sub_name
sub_text           sub_type         test_main     translators
type               unshar_file_code unstack_arg   usage
usage_message      usage_opt        usage_value   value
vendor_opt         version          version_proc  version_value

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7.19 Option Definition Name Index

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Index Entry Section

addtogroup7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
allow-errors7.5.1.4 User Presentation Attributes
arg-default7.5.6.12 Default Option Argument Value
arg-name7.5.9.1 Per option documentation attributes
arg-optional7.5.6.11 Option Argument Optional
arg-range7.5.6.2 Arg Type Number
arg-type7.5.6 Option Argument Specification
argument7.5.1 Program Description Attributes
author7.5.3 Program Information Attributes

before-guile-boot7.5.4.1 guile: main and inner_main procedures

call-proc7.5.7 Option Argument Handling
cmd-section7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
comment-charfor-each main procedure options
config-header7.5.1 Program Description Attributes
config-header7.5.1.3 Programming Details
copyright7.5.3 Program Information Attributes

date7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
default7.5.5.9 Default Option
deprecated7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
descrip7.5.5.1 Required Attributes
detail7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
detail7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
die-code7.5.1.3 Programming Details
disable7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
disable-load7.5.1.2 Program Configuration
disable-save7.5.1.2 Program Configuration
doc7.5.9.1 Per option documentation attributes
doc-section7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
doc-sub7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
doc-sub-cmd7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
documentation7.5.2.1 AutoOpt-ed Library for AutoOpt-ed Program
documentation7.5.5.10 Option Sectioning Comment

eaddr7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
enable7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
enabled7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
environrc7.5.1.2 Program Configuration
equivalence7.5.5.7 Option Equivalence Class
exit-desc7.5.1.3 Programming Details
exit-name7.5.1.3 Programming Details
explain7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
export7.5.1.3 Programming Details
extra-code7.5.6.10 Keyword list
extract-code7.5.7 Option Argument Handling

file-exists7.5.6.7 Arg Type File Name
file-mode7.5.6.7 Arg Type File Name
flag-code7.5.7 Option Argument Handling
flag-proc7.5.7 Option Argument Handling
full-usage7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display

gnu-usage7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
gnu-usage7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
guard-option-names7.5.1.3 Programming Details
guile-main7.5.4.1 guile: main and inner_main procedures

handler-procprocedure to handle each argument
handler-typehandler procedure type
help-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options
homerc7.5.1.2 Program Configuration

ifdef7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
ifndef7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
immed-disable7.5.5.3 Immediate Action Attributes
immediate7.5.5.3 Immediate Action Attributes
include7.5.1.3 Programming Details

keyword7.5.6.10 Keyword list

lib-name7.5.2.1 AutoOpt-ed Library for AutoOpt-ed Program
library7.5.2.1 AutoOpt-ed Library for AutoOpt-ed Program
load-opts-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options
long-opts7.5.1.4 User Presentation Attributes

main7.5.4 Generating main procedures
main-finifor-each main procedure options
main-initfor-each main procedure options
main-type7.5.4 Generating main procedures
max7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
min7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
more-help-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options
must-set7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
MYHANDLER-codecode for handler procedure

name7.5.5.1 Required Attributes
no-command7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
no-libopts7.5.1.3 Programming Details
no-misuse-usage7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
no-preset7.5.5.6 Option cannot be pre-configured
no-return7.5.1.3 Programming Details
no-xlate7.5.1.4 User Presentation Attributes

omitted-usage7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
open-file7.5.6.7 Arg Type File Name
option-code7.5.4.4 main: user supplied main procedure
option-format7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
option-info7.5.9.2 Global documentation attributes
opts-ptr7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
owner7.5.3 Program Information Attributes

package7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
prefix7.5.1.3 Programming Details
prefix-enum7.5.6.4 Arg Type Keyword
preserve-case7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
prog-desc7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
prog-group7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
prog-name7.5.1 Program Description Attributes
prog-title7.5.1 Program Description Attributes

rcfile7.5.1.2 Program Configuration
reorder-args7.5.1.4 User Presentation Attributes
reorder-args7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
reset-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options
resettable7.5.1.4 User Presentation Attributes

save-opts-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options
scaled7.5.6.2 Arg Type Number
settable7.5.5.5 Program may set option
short-usage7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
stack-arg7.5.7 Option Argument Handling

text7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
translators7.5.5.11 Translator Notes
type7.5.3 Program Information Attributes

unstack-arg7.5.7 Option Argument Handling
usage7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
usage7.5.3 Program Information Attributes
usage-message7.5.1.3 Programming Details
usage-opt7.1 AutoOpts Features
usage-opt7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
usage-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options

value7.5.5.2 Common Option Attributes
vendor-opt7.5.1.2 Program Configuration
version7.5.1.1 Usage and Version Info Display
version-proc7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options
version-value7.5.10 Automatically Supported Options

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