A full-featured, yet ridiculously simple commandline parser for your next php cli script. Stop fighting with getopt().

v2.0 2018-02-20 18:11 UTC


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Garden CLI is a PHP command line interface library meant to provide a full set of functionality with a clean and simple api.

Why use Garden CLI?

PHP's getopt() provides little functionality and is prone to failure where one typo in your command line options can wreck and entire command call. Garden CLI solves this problem and provides additional functionality.

  • Your commands get automatic support for --help to print out help for your commands.
  • Support a single command or multiple commands. (ex. git pull, git push, etc.)
  • Have command options parsed and validated with error information automatically printed out.
  • A simple, elegant syntax so that even your most basic command line scripts will take little effort to implement robust parsing.


Garden CLI requires PHP 7.0 or higher

Garden CLI is PSR-4 compliant and can be installed using composer. Just add vanilla/garden-cli to your composer.json.

"require": {
    "vanilla/garden-cli": "~2.0"

Basic Example

Here is a basic example of a command line script that uses Garden CLI to parse its options. Let's say you are writing a script called dbdump.php to dump some data from your database.

// All of the command line classes are in the Garden\Cli namespace.
use Garden\Cli\Cli;

// Require composer's autoloader.
require_once 'vendor/autoload.php';

// Define the cli options.
$cli = new Cli();

$cli->description('Dump some information from your database.')
    ->opt('host:h', 'Connect to host.', true)
    ->opt('port:P', 'Port number to use.', false, 'integer')
    ->opt('user:u', 'User for login if not current user.', true)
    ->opt('password:p', 'Password to use when connecting to server.')
    ->opt('database:d', 'The name of the database to dump.', true);

// Parse and return cli args.
$args = $cli->parse($argv, true);

This example returns an Args object or exits to show help or an error message. Here are some things to note about the example.

  • You can throw an exception instead of exiting by passing false as the second argument to parse().
  • The opt() method has the following parameters: name, description, required, and type. Most parameters have sensible defaults.
  • If you want your option to have a short code then specify in with name argument separated by a colon.
  • If you specify a short code for an option this will act like an alias for the parameter name in $argv only. You always access an option by its full name after parsing.

Displaying Help

If you were to call the basic example with a --help option then you'd see the following help printed:

usage: dbdump.php [<options>]

Dump some information from your database.

  --database, -d   The name of the database to dump.
  --help, -?       Display this help.
  --host, -h       Connect to host.
  --password, -p   Password to use when connecting to server.
  --port, -P       Port number to use.
  --user, -u       User for login if not current user.

All of the options are printed in a compact table and required options are printed in bold. The table will automatically expand to accommodate longer option names and wrap if you provide extra long descriptions.

Displaying Errors

Let's say you call the basic example with just -P foo. What you'd see is the following error message:

The value of --port (-P) is not a valid integer.
Missing required option: database
Missing required option: user

Using the Parsed Options

Once you've successfully parsed the $argv using Cli->parse($argv) you can use the various methods on the returned Args object.

$args = $cli->parse($argv);

$host = $args->getOpt('host', ''); // get host with default
$user = $args->getOpt('user'); // get user
$database = $args['database']; // use the args like an array too
$port = $args->getOpt('port', 123); // get port with default 123

Multiple Commands Example

Let's say you are writing a git-like command line utility called nit.php that pushes and pulls information from a remote repository.

// Define a cli with commands.
$cli = Cli::create()
    // Define the first command: push.
    ->description('Push data to a remote server.')
    ->opt('force:f', 'Force an overwrite.', false, 'boolean')
    ->opt('set-upstream:u', 'Add a reference to the upstream repo.', false, 'boolean')
    // Define the second command: pull.
    ->description('Pull data from a remote server.')
    ->opt('commit', 'Perform the merge and commit the result.', false, 'boolean')
    // Set some global options.
    ->opt('verbose:v', 'Output verbose information.', false, 'integer')
    ->arg('repo', 'The repository to sync with.', true);

$args = $cli->parse($argv);

Like the basic example, parse() will return a Args object on a successful parse. Here are some things to note about this example.

  • The Cli::create() method is provided if you want to have a 100% fluent interface when defining your command schema.
  • Call the command() method to define a new command.
  • If you call command('*') then you can define options that are global to all commands.
  • If the type of opt() is integer then you can count the number of times an option is supplied. In this example, this allowes you to specify multiple levels of verbosity by adding multiple -vs.
  • The arg() method lets you define arguments that go after the options on the command line. More on this below.

Listing Commands

Calling a script that has commands with no options or just the --help option will display a list of commands. Here is the output from the multiple commands example above.

usage: nit.php  [<options>] [<args>]

  push   Push data to a remote server.
  pull   Pull data from a remote server.

Args and Opts

The Args class differentiates between args and opts. There are methods to access both opts and args on that class.

  • Opts are passed by --name full name or -s short code. They are named and can have types.
  • Args are passed after the options as just strings separated by spaces.
  • When calling a script from the command line you can use -- to separate opts from args if there is ambiguity.

Formatting Output with the LogFormatter

The LogFormatter class helps you output task-based information to the console in a nice, compact style. It's good for things like install scripts, scripts that take a long time, or scripts you put into a cron job.

When using the LogFormatter you want to think in terms of messages and tasks. A message is a single message to output to the user. A task has a begin and an end and can be nested as much as you want.

By default, the LogFormatter will only output tasks two levels deep, but you can change that with LogFormatter::setMaxLevel(). Use this property to give your CLI scripts a quiet or verbose mode without littering your own code with if statements.

The LogFormatter also has special methods for errors and success messages and adds a bit of color to the output to help them stand out at a glance. When you output an error message it will always display, even if it's deeply nested and would normally be hidden.


$log = new LogFormatter();

$log->message('This is a message.')
    ->error('This is an error.') // outputs in red
    ->success('This is what success looks like.') // outputs in green

    ->begin('Begin a task')
    // code task code goes here...

    ->begin('Make an API call')
    ->endHttpStatus(200) // treated as error or success depending on code

    ->begin('Multi-step task')
    ->message('Step 1')
    ->message('Step 2')
    ->begin('Step 3')
    ->message('Step 3.1') // steps will be hidden because they are level 3
    ->message('Step 3.2')