Easy command line scripts for PHP with opt parsing and color output. No dependencies

1.3.1 2024-01-17 12:03 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2024-04-17 12:44:50 UTC


PHP-CLI is a simple library that helps with creating nice looking command line scripts.

It takes care of

  • option parsing
  • help page generation
  • automatic width adjustment
  • colored output
  • optional PSR3 compatibility

It is lightweight and has no 3rd party dependencies. Note: this is for non-interactive scripts only. It has no readline or similar support.


Use composer:

php composer.phar require splitbrain/php-cli

Usage and Examples

Minimal example:

require __DIR__ . '/../vendor/autoload.php';
use splitbrain\phpcli\CLI;
use splitbrain\phpcli\Options;

class Minimal extends CLI
    // register options and arguments
    protected function setup(Options $options)
        $options->setHelp('A very minimal example that does nothing but print a version');
        $options->registerOption('version', 'print version', 'v');

    // implement your code
    protected function main(Options $options)
        if ($options->getOpt('version')) {
        } else {
            echo $options->help();
// execute it
$cli = new Minimal();


The basic usage is simple:

  • create a class and extend splitbrain\phpcli\CLI
  • implement the setup($options) method and register options, arguments, commands and set help texts
    • $options->setHelp() adds a general description
    • $options->registerOption() adds an option
    • $options->registerArgument() adds an argument
    • $options->registerCommand() adds a sub command
  • implement the main($options) method and do your business logic there
    • $options->getOpts lets you access set options
    • $options->getArgs() returns the remaining arguments after removing the options
    • $options->getCmd() returns the sub command the user used
  • instantiate your class and call run() on it

More examples can be found in the examples directory. Please refer to the API docs for further info.


By default, the CLI class registers an exception handler and will print the exception's message to the end user and exit the programm with a non-zero exit code. You can disable this behaviour and catch all exceptions yourself by passing false to the constructor.

You can use the provided splitbrain\phpcli\Exception to signal any problems within your main code yourself. The exception's code will be used as the exit code then.

Stacktraces will be printed on log level debug.

Colored output

Colored output is handled through the Colors class. It tries to detect if a color terminal is available and only then uses terminal colors. You can always suppress colored output by passing --no-colors to your scripts. Disabling colors will also disable the emoticon prefixes.

Simple colored log messages can be printed by you using the convinence methods success() (green), info() (cyan), error() (red) or fatal() (red). The latter will also exit the programm with a non-zero exit code.

For more complex coloring you can access the color class through $this->colors in your script. The wrap() method is probably what you want to use.

The table formatter allows coloring full columns. To use that mechanism pass an array of colors as third parameter to its format() method. Please note that you can not pass colored texts in the second parameters (text length calculation and wrapping will fail, breaking your texts).

Table Formatter

The TableFormatter class allows you to align texts in multiple columns. It tries to figure out the available terminal width on its own. It can be overwritten by setting a COLUMNS environment variable.

The formatter is used through the format() method which expects at least two arrays: The first defines the column widths, the second contains the texts to fill into the columns. Between each column a border is printed (a single space by default).

See the example/table.php for sample usage.

Columns width can be given in three forms:

  • fixed width in characters by providing an integer (eg. 15)
  • precentages by provifing an integer and a percent sign (eg. 25%)
  • a single fluid "rest" column marked with an asterisk (eg. *)

When mixing fixed and percentage widths, percentages refer to the remaining space after all fixed columns have been assigned.

Space for borders is automatically calculated. It is recommended to always have some relative (percentage) or a fluid column to adjust for different terminal widths.

The table formatter is used for the automatic help screen accessible when calling your script with -h or --help.

PSR-3 Logging

The CLI class is a fully PSR-3 compatible logger (printing colored log data to STDOUT and STDERR). This is useful when you call backend code from your CLI that expects a Logger instance to produce any sensible status output while running.

If you need to pass a class implementing the Psr\Log\LoggerInterface you can do so by inheriting from one of the two provided classes implementing this interface instead of splitbrain\phpcli\CLI.

  • Use splitbrain\phpcli\PSR3CLI if you're using version 2 of PSR3 (PHP < 8.0)
  • Use splitbrain\phpcli\PSR3CLIv3 if you're using version 3 of PSR3 (PHP >= 8.0)

The resulting object then can be passed as the logger instance. The difference between the two is in adjusted method signatures (with appropriate type hinting) only. Be sure you have the suggested psr/log composer package installed when using these classes.

Note: if your backend code calls for a PSR-3 logger but does not actually type check for the interface (AKA being LoggerAware only) you can also just pass an instance of splitbrain\phpcli\CLI.

Log Levels

You can adjust the verbosity of your CLI tool using the --loglevel parameter. Supported loglevels are the PSR-3 loglevels and our own success level:

  • debug
  • info
  • notice
  • success (this is not defined in PSR-3)
  • warning
  • error
  • critical
  • alert
  • emergency


Convenience methods for all log levels are available. Placeholder interpolation as described in PSR-3 is available, too. Messages from warning level onwards are printed to STDERR all below are printed to STDOUT.

The default log level of your script can be set by overwriting the $logdefault member.

See example/logging.php for an example.