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How to handle invalid arguments with argparse in Python?

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  • Last Updated : 29 Aug, 2020
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Argparse module provides facilities to improve the command-line interface. The methods associated with this module makes it easy to code for command-line interface programs as well as the interaction better. This module automatically generates help messages and raises an error when inappropriate arguments are passed. It even allows customizing the messages shown in case of invalid arguments.

Ways to handle invalid arguments

1. User-defined function and ‘type’ parameter

The argparse module has a function called add_arguments() where the type to which the argument should be converted is given. Instead of using the available values, a user-defined function can be passed as a value to this parameter. This will be useful in many cases as we can define our own criteria for the argument to be valid after conversion. For example, let us take a simple example. One has to enter a number in the range 5 to 15, if it exceeds, then an error has to be raised and that too immediately after the conversion. Otherwise, the square of the number will be displayed. Look at the python code below which is saved as


import argparse
# function to convert the input and 
# check the range
def checker(a):
    num = int(a)
    if num < 5 or num > 15:
        raise argparse.ArgumentTypeError('invalid value!!!')
    return num
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(
    description='Processing integers in range 5 to 15')
# passing the function for 'type' parameter
parser.add_argument('n', type=checker)
res = parser.parse_args()
print("square is :", res.n*res.n)

Output: output

If the argument passed is not in the given range, for example, the argument given for the first time the image above ‘3‘, the error message invalid value!!! is displayed. The argument passed next time is 10 which is in the specified range and thus the square of 10 is printed.

Now, look at another example, where you don’t want to type convert the input but specify some criteria so that it could be a valid input. The program given below takes two arguments – uname, pwd (user name, password). Here the criteria for setting username is, it should have at least 5 characters but not more than 8. The password must have at least 1 digit, at least 2 alphabets, and at least 1 special character. The parser is set to process in such a way and the program is stored as


import argparse
# function to check user name
def checker(a):
    if len(a) > 8 or len(a) < 5:
        raise argparse.ArgumentTypeError(
            'user name should have atleast 5 characters \
            but not more than 8 characters!!!')
# function to check password
def checker_pwd(b):
    d = 0  # initial count of digits
    a = 0  # initial count of alphabets
    ss = 0  # initial count of special characters
    for i in range(0, len(b)):
      # increment alphabet count
        if (b[i] >= 'a' and b[i] <= 'z') or (b[i] >= 'A' and b[i] <= 'Z'):
            a = a+1
      # increment digit count
        elif (b[i] >= '0' and b[i] <= '9'):
            d = d+1
       # increment special characters count
            ss = ss+1
    # check criteria
    if d < 1 or a < 2 or ss < 1 or len(b) > 6:
        raise argparse.ArgumentTypeError(
            'Password doesnt match the criterias!!')
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
parser.add_argument('uname', type=checker)
parser.add_argument('pwd', type=checker_pwd)

Output: output

  • First run: the arguments are geek 12345678. The username should have at least 5 characters.
  • Second run: the arguments are geeks 12345678. The password’s criterion is not satisfied.
  • Third run: the arguments are geeks 123abc@#. These pass all the constraints and so the system exits

2. Using ArgumentError()

This function takes up two parameters namely the argument and the message to be displayed. To use this a variable that refers to the argument should be set up. Look at the example below. The program takes two values from the user, first should be an odd number, and second should be an even number. It is saved as


import argparse
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
# a variable to hold odd numbers
ref_arg1 = parser.add_argument('odd', type=int)
# a variable to hold even number
ref_arg2 = parser.add_argument('even', type=int)
args = parser.parse_args()
# raising error in cas of
if args.odd % 2 == 0:
    raise argparse.ArgumentError(ref_arg1, "Argument 1 Can't \
    be even number!!")
if args.even % 2 != 0:
    raise argparse.ArgumentError(ref_arg1, "Argument 2 Can't be\
    odd number!!")

Output: output


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