Adding new types

To add new types, you need to define your own subclass of optparse's Option class. This class has a couple of attributes that define optparse's types: TYPES and TYPE_CHECKER.

TYPES is a tuple of type names; in your subclass, simply define a new tuple TYPES that builds on the standard one.

TYPE_CHECKER is a dictionary mapping type names to type-checking functions. A type-checking function has the following signature:

def check_mytype(option, opt, value)

where option is an Option instance, opt is an option string (e.g., "-f"), and value is the string from the command line that must be checked and converted to your desired type. check_mytype() should return an object of the hypothetical type mytype. The value returned by a type-checking function will wind up in the OptionValues instance returned by OptionParser.parse_args(), or be passed to a callback as the value parameter.

Your type-checking function should raise OptionValueError if it encounters any problems. OptionValueError takes a single string argument, which is passed as-is to OptionParser's error() method, which in turn prepends the program name and the string "error:" and prints everything to stderr before terminating the process.

Here's a silly example that demonstrates adding a complex option type to parse Python-style complex numbers on the command line. (This is even sillier than it used to be, because optparse 1.3 added built-in support for complex numbers, but never mind.)

First, the necessary imports:

from copy import copy
from optparse import Option, OptionValueError

You need to define your type-checker first, since it's referred to later (in the TYPE_CHECKER class attribute of your Option subclass):

def check_complex(option, opt, value):
        return complex(value)
    except ValueError:
        raise OptionValueError(
            "option %s: invalid complex value: %r" % (opt, value))

Finally, the Option subclass:

class MyOption (Option):
    TYPES = Option.TYPES + ("complex",)
    TYPE_CHECKER["complex"] = check_complex

(If we didn't make a copy() of Option.TYPE_CHECKER, we would end up modifying the TYPE_CHECKER attribute of optparse's Option class. This being Python, nothing stops you from doing that except good manners and common sense.)

That's it! Now you can write a script that uses the new option type just like any other optparse-based script, except you have to instruct your OptionParser to use MyOption instead of Option:

parser = OptionParser(option_class=MyOption)
parser.add_option("-c", type="complex")

Alternately, you can build your own option list and pass it to OptionParser; if you don't use add_option() in the above way, you don't need to tell OptionParser which option class to use:

option_list = [MyOption("-c", action="store", type="complex", dest="c")]
parser = OptionParser(option_list=option_list)

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