Advanced Usage


Most of my packages use the same boilerplate to setup everything in a way that allows easy access propogation of user provided parameters:

using BetterInputFiles
using ArgParse

function get_args()
    s = ArgParseSettings()
    @add_arg_table s begin
        "--verbose", "-v"
            help = "Increase level of logging verbosity"
            action = :store_true
            help = "Path to input file"
            required = true
    return parse_args(s)

function main()
    args = get_args()
    verbose = args["verbose"]
    input_path = args["input"]
    input = setup_input(toml, verbose)
    @debug "Read in $input_path"
    run_MyPackage(input) # Actually run everything with the prepared `input`

Given an input file, this will produce a dictionary with a global key containing a dictionary with

  • input_path: The directory the input file is stored in
  • base_path: A base path defined relative to input_path from which any relative paths used by the package will be relative to
  • output_path: The output directory where all output, including logging, will be put
  • logging: Whether logging was set up. This allows you to use my BetterInputFiles logging function or your own
  • log_file: If using my logging function, then in addition to stdout, logs will be saved to log_file

Input file options

Much of the behaviour can be controlled from the input file itself, without needed to change any code. Note that all of these examples are written in TOML, but will work for YAML, and JSON files as well.

Change default paths

By default, BetterInputFiles sets base_path equal to input_path, and output_path equal to base_path/Output. By defining your own (absolute or relative) base_path, and output_path, you can change these defaults. Note that base_path is defined relative to input_path, and output_path is defined relative to base_path, but absolute paths are respected.

[ global ]
    base_path = "../Examples"
    # base_path = input_path/../Examples
    output_path = "/tmp/test"
    # output_path = "/tmp/test"

Change logging behaviour

You can define in the input file, whether you want to use BetterInputFiles logging or not. Additionally you can specify a new location for the log file (defaults to output_path/log.txt). This can be either absolute, or relative to output_path.

[ global ]
    logging = false
    log_file = logs/out.txt
    # log_file = output_path/logs/out.txt

Include another input file

It is sometimes helpful to seperate your input into a number of different files, or to use the same input options in a number of different files.

# file_1.toml
[ key1 ]
    a = 1
    b = 2

# file_2.toml
<include file_1.toml>

[ key2 ]
    c = 3
    d = 4
input = setup_input("file_2.toml", verbose)

Will produce:

[ key1 ]
    a = 1
    b = 2

[ key2 ]
    c = 3
    d = 4

Interpolate Environmental Variables

You can easily interpolate environmental variables via:

[ key1 ]
    a = <$A>
    b = <$B>

Generic Interpolation

You can also interpolate other keys, as long as they belong to the same subtree, allowing for easy duplication.

[ key1 ]
    a = 1
    b = <%a>

Propogate defaults

You can specify default values which will be available under every key. These are also quite useful when combined with interpolation, as this default value will be part of every base key. If a default key is specified already, then the default will be ignored

    a = 1
    b = 2

[ key1 ]
    c = <%a>
    d = <%b>

Automatic upper-case

Finally, BetterInputFiles will automatically make every key upper-case, so your user's can ignore case when specifying keys. Values are still case-specific.

Script options

In addition to changing behaviour from the input file, there's also a lot of functionality BetterInputFiles provides when writing scripts

Add new global paths

By defining an OrderedDict{String, Tuple{String, String}} of paths, you can add new global paths, which can be accessed throughout the package. The following creates data_path relative to base_path, and filter_path relative to data_path. You must provide defaults for these paths but the user can overwrite then in the .toml (see Change default paths).

paths = Dict(
    # Name of path => (relative parent, default)
    "data_path" => ("base_path", "Data")
    "filter_path" => ("data_path", "Filters")

input = setup_input(input_path, verbose; paths=paths) 

Custom Metadata

By providing BetterInputFiles with a Vector{Tuple{String, String}}, you can add additional metadata to the input file, in addition to the date of creation and original input file.

custom_metadata = [("Custom", "Metadata")]

input = setup_input(input_path, verbose; custom_metadata=custom_metadata)

This will create a new key="Custom" and value="Metadata" in the Metadata dictionary.

Manually set extension

Sometimes you will have an input file which acts like a TOML, YAML, or JSON file, but has a different extension. If this is the case, you can let BetterInputFiles know which extension to assume.

input = setup_input("/path/to/input.example", verbose, "toml")