Argh: The Natural CLI

Building a command-line interface? Found yourself uttering “argh!” while struggling with the API of argparse? Don’t want to lose its power but don’t need the complexity?

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

—Albert Einstein (probably)

Argh provides a wrapper for argparse. Argparse is a very powerful tool; Argh just makes it easy to use.

In a nutshell

Argh-powered applications are simple but flexible:


Declaration of commands can be decoupled from assembling and dispatching;


Commands are declared naturally, no complex API calls in most cases;


Commands are plain functions, can be used directly outside of CLI context;


The complexity of code raises with requirements;


The full power of argparse is available whenever needed;


Nested commands are a piece of cake, no messing with subparsers (though they are of course used under the hood);


Command output is processed with respect to stream encoding;


Argh can dispatch a subset of pure-argparse code, and pure-argparse code can update and dispatch a parser assembled with Argh;


The amount of boilerplate code is minimal; among other things, Argh will:

  • infer command name from function name;
  • infer arguments from function signature;
  • infer argument type from the default value;
  • infer argument action from the default value (for booleans);
  • add an alias root command help for the --help argument.

Sounds good? Check the tutorial!

Relation to argparse

Argh is fully compatible with argparse. You can mix Argh-agnostic and Argh-aware code. Just keep in mind that the dispatcher does some extra work that a custom dispatcher may not do.


Using pip:

$ pip install argh

Arch Linux (AUR):

$ yaourt python-argh


A very simple application with one command:

import argh

def main():
    return 'Hello world'


A potentially modular application with multiple commands:

import argh

# declaring:

def echo(text):
    return text

def greeter(name, greeting='hello'):
    return greeting + ', ' + name

# assembling:

parser = argh.ArghParser()
parser.add_commands([echo, greeter])

# dispatching:

if __name__ == '__main__':

The powerful API of argparse is also available:

@arg('text', default='hello world', nargs='+', help='The message')
def echo(text):
    print text

The approaches can be safely combined even up to this level:

# adding help to `foo` which is in the function signature:
@arg('foo', help='blah')
# these are not in the signature so they go to **kwargs:
@arg('-q', '--quux')
# the function itself:
def cmd(foo, bar=1, *args, **kwargs):
    yield foo
    yield bar
    yield ', '.join(args)
    yield kwargs['baz']
    yield kwargs['quux']


Developed by Andrey Mikhaylenko since 2010.

See file AUTHORS for a complete list of contributors to this library.


Argh is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Argh is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Lesser General Public License along with Argh. If not, see <>.


The argh library is supported (and tested unless otherwise specified) on the following versions of Python:

  • 2.6 (argparse library is required)
  • 2.7 (including PyPy 1.8)
  • 3.1 (argparse library is required; not tested)
  • 3.2
  • 3.3

Changed in version 0.15: Added support for Python 3.x, dropped support for Python ≤ 2.5.

Changed in version 0.18: Improved support for Python 3.2, added support for Python 3.3.

Why this one?

See Similar projects.

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