0.1.0 (2011-05-27)

An unobtrusive ambiguity aware parser for command line interfaces (CLIs). It's unobtrusive because it doesn't mandate a specific way of printing error messages, help messages and other output, and because it has no control flow wrapper DSL. It's ambiguity aware because it lets you specify how to handle ambiguities such as -bar, which can mean both -b -a -r and -b=ar.

var args = Object.create(buster-args);
var port = args.createOption("-p", "--port");
port.hasValue = true; // So that the parser can read -p2345 as -p=2345
port.defaultValue = 8282;
port.addValidator(busterArgs.validators.integer("Custom message. ${1} has to be a number."));
var verbose = args.createOption("-v");
verbose.addValidator(function () {
    if (this.timesSet > 3) {
        // See also asynchronous validators.
        return "-v can only be 3 levels.";
// Operands are statements without options. I.e. mything --port=1234 path/to/stuff
var rootPath = args.createOperand();
rootPath.signature = "Presentation root directory"; // Used in error msgs for this option
rootPath.addValidator(busterArgs.validators.file()); // Will use default error msg
args.handle(process.argv.slice(2), function (errors) {
    if (errors) {
    // Various useful ways to get the  values from the options.
    verbose.timesSet; // Will be between 0 and 3.


var args = Object.create(require("buster-args"))

Creates a new instance of buster.args.

var opt = args.createOption("opt1", ["opt2", ...])

Creates a new option. An option has all the properties of a argument, as well as hasValue and timesSet

args.addShorthand("opt", ["argv1", ...])

A shorthand is a convenience method for adding options to your CLI that actually sets other options.

var opt = args.createOption("--env");
opt.hasValue = true;
args.addShorthand("--development", ["--env", "development"]);
args.addShorthand("--production", ["--env", "production"]);

This makes passing --development an equlvalent to passing --env development.

var opd = args.createOperand()

Creates a new operand. An operand has all the properties of a argument.

args.handle(args, callback)

Performs parsing and validation of argv. In node.JS, make sure to discard the firs two items of process.argv, as they contain unrelated arguments ("node" and the file name).

The callback is called with one argument, errors, which is either undefined, or an array of errors and/or validation messages.

var args = Object.create(buster.args);
args.handle(process.argv.slice(2), function (errors) {
    if (errors) {
        // Print an error msg, i.e. console.log(errors[0])
    // Continue with normal operation. I.e. myOpt.hasValue,
    // myOpt.timesSet, otherOpt.value(), etc.

Arguments (options and operands)

Options and operands are the two types of arguments handled by buster.args, and they share common functionality, listed below this introduction.

An option is a flag, with or without a value. -p, -p abc, -pabc, -p=abc, --port abc and --port=abc are all supported by buster.args.

-pabc can mean both -p -a -b -c and -p=abc. buster.args uses the hasValue to separate the two. With hasValue set to true, -pabc will be handled as -p=abc. When false (default), it will be handled as -p -a -b -c. In that case you also need to have option handlers for -a, -b and -c, or you'll get a validation error such as "unknown option -a" (depending on which option buster.args first encountered that didn't exist).

An operand is an option-less value, i.e. foo (with no -b or --myopt prefixing it). It's commonly used for arguments that always have to be passed. Examples of this are nano path/to/file.txt, git-checkout master, rmdir my_dir, etc. The validators file, directory, and fileOrDirectory are very useful for operands.

Note that buster can handle a mix and match of options and operands in any order, i.e. mycommand --port 1234 my/directory and mycommand my/directory --port 1234 will both work.

Multiple operands will be applied in order of creation. I.e. mycommand something with two operands will assign "something" to the first and undefined to the second.

See example usage at the beginning of this document for more information.


Adds a validator to an argument.

var bool = opt.isSet

True or false depending on whether or not the option was present in argv.

var val = opt.value()

The value of the argument. Is normally a string, but may be any object since validators can change argument values as they see fit. See actualValue.

opt.actualValue = newValue

Override the value an argument gets from argv. This is probably only useful in validations. The integer built in validator uses this to set the value to a number object instead of a string object, for example.

opt.operation = function(promise){}

Arguments can have an optional operation associated with it. When the argument is present in argv, the handler will be executed before handle resolves. The operation is handed a promise. Resolving the promise will set the value of the option. Rejecting it will make handle return an error. This is useful because it guarantees that at the time you handle, you know you either have the correct operation value or an error.

An example where operations are useful is to parse and read a config file on the file system.

myOpt.operation = function (promise) {
    fs.readFile(myOpt.value(), function (err, data) {
        if (err) {
        } else {


Options has additional properties that operands doesn't have.

var num = opt.timesSet

The number of times an option has been set. Useful for options like -v (verbose) which you might want to allow setting multiple times, giving the user more and more verbose output from your program.

-v // 1
-vv // 2
-v -v -v -v // 4
-v -vv -vv -vvv // 8

opt.hasValue = [true|false]

Tells the parser that it should look for a value for this option. An error will be generated if the option is passed without a value. See acceptsValueAbsence to change this behaviour.

The default value is false.

If not true, you'll get "unrecognized option 1234" for --port 1234, since the parser didn't know how to handle 1234.

opt.acceptsValueAbsence = [true|false]

Allows for passing the option both with and without a value, when hasValue is true.

Useful for cases where you have options that work with and without a value passed to it, such as --help and --help sometopic.

Defaults to false.


Validators lets you add requirements with associated error messages to options and operands. Validators can also mutate the values of options. The integer validator will for example set the value to a Number object upon successful validation.

buster.args has a number of built-in validators, and an API for adding custom validators.

Built-in validators

The built in validators provides a selection of generic validators. You can customize the error messages by passing strings with tokens like "${1}" in them. The number and value maps are documented for each validator.

// Uses built-in error message
// Specify your own error message
buster.args.validators.required("${1} has to be set");


Fails if the option is not set.

Custom error message

The option signature


Will fail validation if the option was not an integer, i.e. "foo" and 42.5. Upon successful validation, the value of the option will be overwritten with the Number object for the passed value.

Custom error message

The specified number
The option signature


Will fail validation if the option was not a number, i.e. "foo" and ?. Upon successful validation, the value of the option will be overwritten with the Number object for the passed value.

Custom error message

The specified number
The option signature


Will fail validation if the option was not a path pointing to an existing file in the file system.

Custom error message

The specified file
The option signature


Will fail validation if the option was not a path pointing to an existing directory in the file system.

Custom error message

The specified directory
The option signature


Will fail validation if the option was not a path pointing to an existing file or directory in the file system. Will fail for block devices, sockets, et c.

Custom error message

The specified file or directory
The option signature

Custom validators

A validator is a function that returns a string or undefined (or promises, see async-validators). The this scope in the function is the option for which the validator is being performed.

var opt = args.createOption("-v");
opt.addValidator(function () {
    if (this.value() == "can not be this value") {
        return "This is the error message.";

Asynchronous validators

Promises are used to facilitate asynchronous validators. Here's an example of a validator that checks if a file is larger than 1MB.

var busterPromise = require("buster-promise");
opt.addValidator(function () {
    var self = this;
    var promise = busterPromise.create();
    fs.stat(this.value(), function (err, stat) {
        if (err) {
            promise.reject("Unknown error: " + err);
        if (stat.size > 1024) {
            promise.reject(self.value() + " (" + self.signature + ") was larger than 1MB");
        } else {
    return promise;

Given --myopt /path/to/file and the file is larger than 1MB, you'll get the error message "/path/to/file (--myopt) was larger than 1MB".

Rejecting the promise counts as an error. The first argument should be a string, and is the error message.

Option and operand signatures

The signature is used to identify options and operands in validation errors. Options automatically gets a signature consisting of the option flags assigned to it.

var opt = args.createOption("-v", "--version");
opt.signature; // "-v/--version"
opt.signature = "-v"; // custom signature

Specifying a signature is more useful operands, since and operand doesn't have any data that it can use to auto generate a signature.

var rootDir = args.createOperand();
rootDir.signature; // undefined, operands has no default signature
rootDir.signature = "Root directory";

Providing --help

It's not in the nature of buster.args to automatically handle --help for you. It is however very easy to add such an option to your program.

var args = Object.create(buster.args);
var options = [];
var port = args.createOption("--port");
port.hasValue = true;
port.defaultValue = 1234;
port.helpText = "The port to start the server on.";
var verbose = args.createOption("-v");
verbose.helpText = "Level of detail in output. Pass multiple times (i.e. -vvv) for more output.";
var help = args.createOption("--help", "-h");
help.helpText = "Show this text";
args.handle(process.argv.slice(2), function (errors) {
    if (errors) {
        console.log(errors[0]); return;
    if (help.isSet) {
        for (var i = 0; i < options.length; i++) {
            console.log(options[i].signature + ": " + options[i].helpText);
    } else {
        // Proceed with normal program operation

Note that the helpText property is not built-in buster.args functionality. It's just an arbitrary property on the option object that you can use for the purpose of associating a help text with an option.