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cli-generate(1) General Commands Manual cli-generate(1)


cli-generate - Generate source and documentation from CLI descriptions


cli-generate [ -c | -h | -m | -w ] FILENAME.cli



cli-generate reads in a CLI (command line interface) description file, parses it into its various sections, and prints out one of a set of output files. In typical usage, that output would be directed to a file and later compiled or included in other sources.

The CLI file (named PROGRAM.cli) is divided into two parts, a header (formatted much like a standard mail header) and a series of sections. Headers and sections other than those specified below are ignored. All headers and sections are optional.

File Format

file = header "\n" *section
header = *(header-line "\n")
header-line = header-field ":" whitespace value
whitespace = *(SPACE / TAB)
section = "[" name "]" "\n" lines
lines = *( line "\n" )


A one-line description of what the program does.
Add C statements to #include the given source file. Must be formatted as either <file> or file
The minimum number of allowed non-option arguments. Defaults to 0.
The maximum number of allowed non-option arguments. Negative values mean unlimited. Defaults to -1.
Set to non-zero if the resulting program is to show its PID with every output message. Defaults to 0.
A one-line description of the intended usage. Defaults to empty.

Section Names

The text in this section is shown in the command usage before the options description.
The list of options this program accepts. See below for their format.
The text in this section is shown in the command usage after the options description.
[return value]
[see also]
These sections are formatted and copied into the man page in the standard order.

Options Format

options = *(option / separator)
option = option1 "\n" option2 "\n" *(line "\n")
option1 = [shortopt] [longopt] type ["=" flag-value] variable ["=" init]
option2 = helpstr ["=" default]
separator = "-- " text "\n"
shortopt = "-" character
longopt = "--" word

If not specified, flag-value and init are 0, and default is empty.


Except for [prefix], [options], and [suffix], all of the sections support formatting instructions similar to that of TeXinfo (but greatly simplified).

Use "strong" (bold) text.
Indicate the name of a command.
Indicate a command-line option.
Use "emphatic" (italicized) text.
Indicate a metasyntactic variable.
Indicate an environment variable.
Indicate the name of a file.
Indicate text that is a literal example of a piece of a program.
Indicate text that is a literal example of a sequence of characters.
@end example
The text between these two tags is indented.
@end verbatim
Everything between these two tags is passed as-is (verbatim) to the output.
@table @format
@end table
Mark up a two-column table, or "definition list".
@item paragraph
Add an item to a table. The @item starts a paragraph that will be the actual list entry. Any subsequent paragraphs will be typeset separately.


Output C source code.
Output C header file.
Output a UNIX man page.
Output HTML (web) markup.


Here is a sample CLI file, containing many of the described elements.

Min: 1
Max: 1
Usage: PATH
Description: Create a file.
Show-Pid: 0
Include: <stdio.h>
If the given PATH is a directory, it is suffixed with another name.
@program generates a new random file from a variety of sources including
@command{ls} and @command{ps} output.
If the given @option{PATH} is a directory, it is suffixed with another
name of my choosing.
-v --verbose FLAG=1 opt_verbose
-t --type STRING opt_type = "type1"
The type of the file to generate. = type1
Possible types for this include @option{type1} and @option{base64}.


Bruce Guenter <>