ArgTools.jl

Tools for writing functions that handle many kinds of IO arguments
Author JuliaIO
Popularity
3 Stars
Updated Last
3 Months Ago
Started In
June 2020

ArgTools

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ArgTools provides tools for creating consistent, flexible APIs that work with various kinds of function arguments. In the current version, it helps deal with arguments that are, at their core, IO handles, but which you'd like to allow the user to specify directly as file names, commands, pipelines, or, of course, as raw IO handles. For write arguments, it's also possible to use nothing and write to a temporary file whose path is returned.

API

There are two parts to the ArgTools API:

  1. Functions and types for helping define flexible function APIs.
  2. Functions for helping to test APIs defined with above.

While it's great to be able to define a flexibile API, if you're not sure that it works the way it's supposed to, what's the benefit. Since it's can be quite verbose to test such a combinatorial explosion of methods, ArgTools also provides tools to help testing all the ways your tools can be called to make sure everything is working as intented.

Argument Handling

The API for helping defing flexible function signatures consists of two types and four helper functions: ArgRead and ArgWrite; arg_read, arg_write, arg_isdir and arg_mkdir.

ArgRead

ArgRead = Union{AbstractString, AbstractCmd, IO}

The ArgRead types is a union of the types that the arg_read function knows how to convert into readable IO handles. See arg_read for details.

ArgWrite

ArgWrite = Union{AbstractString, AbstractCmd, IO}

The ArgWrite types is a union of the types that the arg_write function knows how to convert into writeable IO handles, except for Nothing which arg_write handles by generating a temporary file. See arg_write for details.

arg_read

arg_read(f::Function, arg::ArgRead) -> f(arg_io)

The arg_read function accepts an argument arg that can be any of these:

  • AbstractString: a file path to be opened for reading
  • AbstractCmd: a command to be run, reading from its standard output
  • IO: an open IO handle to be read from

Whether the body returns normally or throws an error, a path which is opened will be closed before returning from arg_read and an IO handle will be flushed but not closed before returning from arg_read.

arg_write

arg_write(f::Function, arg::ArgWrite) -> arg
arg_write(f::Function, arg::Nothing) -> tempname()

The arg_write function accepts an argument arg that can be any of these:

  • AbstractString: a file path to be opened for writing
  • AbstractCmd: a command to be run, writing to its standard input
  • IO: an open IO handle to be written to
  • Nothing: a temporary path should be written to

If the body returns normally, a path that is opened will be closed upon completion; an IO handle argument is left open but flushed before return. If the argument is nothing then a temporary path is opened for writing and closed open completion and the path is returned from arg_write. In all other cases, arg itself is returned. This is a useful pattern since you can consistently return whatever was written, whether an argument was passed or not.

If there is an error during the evaluation of the body, a path that is opened by arg_write for writing will be deleted, whether it's passed in as a string or a temporary path generated when arg is nothing.

arg_isdir

arg_isdir(f::Function, arg::AbstractString) -> f(arg)

The arg_isdir function takes arg which must be the path to an existing directory (an error is raised otherwise) and passes that path to f finally returning the result of f(arg). This is definitely the least useful tool offered by ArgTools and mostly exists for symmetry with arg_mkdir and to give consistent error messages.

arg_mkdir

arg_mkdir(f::Function, arg::AbstractString) -> arg
arg_mkdir(f::Function, arg::Nothing) -> mktempdir()

The arg_mkdir function takes arg which must either be one of:

  • a path to an already existing empty directory,
  • a non-existent path which can be created as a directory, or
  • nothing in which case a temporary directory is created.

In all cases the path to the directory is returned. If an error occurs during f(arg), the directory is returned to its original state: if it already existed but was empty, it will be emptied; if it did not exist it will be deleted.

Function Testing

Using ArgTools is easy; thoroughly testing flexible functions defined using ArgTools is a bit trickier, but the package includes testing tools that help. The API for testing functions defined with the argument handling API consists of two functions and a macro: arg_readers, arg_writers and @arg_test.

arg_readers

arg_readers(arg :: AbstractString, [ type = ArgRead ]) do arg::Function
    ## pre-test setup ##
    @arg_test arg begin
        arg :: ArgRead
        ## test using `arg` ##
    end
    ## post-test cleanup ##
end

The arg_readers function takes a path to be read and a single-argument do block, which is invoked once for each test reader type that arg_read can handle. If the optional type argument is given then the do block is only invoked for readers that produce arguments of that type.

The arg passed to the do block is not the argument value itself, because some of test argument types need to be initialized and finalized for each test case. Consider an open file handle argument: once you've used it for one test, you can't use it again; you need to close it and open the file again for the next test. This function arg can be converted into an ArgRead instance using @arg_test arg begin ... end.

arg_writers

arg_writers([ type = ArgWrite ]) do path::String, arg::Function
    ## pre-test setup ##
    @arg_test arg begin
        arg :: ArgWrite
        ## test using `arg` ##
    end
    ## post-test cleanup ##
end

The arg_writers function takes a do block, which is invoked once for each test writer type that arg_write can handle with a temporary (non-existent) path and arg which can be converted into various writable argument types which write to path. If the optional type argument is given then the do block is only invoked for writers that produce arguments of that type.

The arg passed to the do block is not the argument value itself, because some of test argument types need to be initialized and finalized for each test case. Consider an open file handle argument: once you've used it for one test, you can't use it again; you need to close it and open the file again for the next test. This function arg can be converted into an ArgWrite instance using @arg_test arg begin ... end.

There is also an arg_writers method that takes a path name like arg_readers:

arg_writers(path::AbstractString, [ type = ArgWrite ]) do arg::Function
    ## pre-test setup ##
    @arg_test arg begin
        arg :: ArgWrite
        ## test using `arg` ##
    end
    ## post-test cleanup ##
end

This method is useful if you need to specify path instead of using path name generated by tempname(). Since path is passed from outside of arg_writers, the path is not an argument to the do block in this form.

@arg_test

@arg_test arg1 arg2 ... body

The @arg_test macro is used to convert arg functions provided by arg_readers and arg_writers into actual argument values. When you write @arg_test arg body it is equivalent to arg(arg -> body).

Examples

The examples, like the API, are split into two parts:

  1. An example of defining a function with a flexible API using the main API;
  2. Examples of how to thoroughly test that function using the test utilities.

Usage Example

The best explanation may be an example, which is also used for testing:

using ArgTools

function send_data(src::ArgRead, dst::Union{ArgWrite, Nothing} = nothing)
    arg_read(src) do src_io
        arg_write(dst) do dst_io
            buffer = Vector{UInt8}(undef, 2*1024*1024)
            while !eof(src_io)
                n = readbytes!(src_io, buffer)
                write(dst_io, view(buffer, 1:n))
            end
        end
    end
end

This defines the send_data function which reads data from a source and writes it to a destination, specified by the src and dst arguments, respectively. Thanks to ArgTools, this relatively simple definition acts as a swiss-army knife for sending data from a source to a destination. Here are some examples:

julia> cd(mktempdir())

julia> write("hello.txt", "Hello, world.\n")
14

julia> run(`cat hello.txt`);
Hello, world.

julia> send_data("hello.txt", "hello_copy.txt")
"hello_copy.txt"

julia> run(`cat $ans`);
Hello, world.

julia> rm("hello_copy.txt")

julia> send_data("hello.txt", stdout);
Hello, world.

julia> send_data("hello.txt", pipeline(`gzip -9`, "hello.gz"));

julia> run(`gzcat hello.gz`);
Hello, world.

julia> hello_copy = send_data(`gzcat hello.gz`)
"/var/folders/4g/b8p546px3nd550b3k288mhp80000gp/T/jl_cguepi"

julia> run(`cat $hello_copy`);
Hello, world.

To understand the definition of send_data, let's work from the inside out:

  • The main body of the function operates on the src_io and dst_io IO handles, using a buffer to read data from the former to the latter in 2MiB blocks.

  • The calls to arg_read and arg_write transform the src and dst arguments from various types to src_io and dst_io IO handles. This allows the inner body to handle the core case of dealing with IO handles, without having to worry about the various possible incoming argument types. See the API section below for more details about how arg_read and arg_write work on different types.

  • The arguments to send_data are src::ArgRead and dst::ArgWrite where dst is optional and defaults to nothing if not given. The ArgRead type is a union including all the types that arg_read knows how to handle. Similarly, the ArgWrite type is a union including the types that arg_write knows how to handle, except for nothing which must be explicitly opted into, for which arg_write creates a temporary file and returns its path.

Taken altogether, this allows the send_data function to work with a combinatoral explosion of type signatures:

  • send_data(src::AbstractString)
  • send_data(src::AbstractCmd)
  • send_data(src::IO)
  • send_data(src::AbstractString, dst::AbstractString)
  • send_data(src::AbstractCmd, dst::AbstractString)
  • send_data(src::IO, dst::AbstractString)
  • send_data(src::AbstractString, dst::AbstractCmd)
  • send_data(src::AbstractCmd, dst::AbstractCmd)
  • send_data(src::IO, dst::AbstractCmd)
  • send_data(src::AbstractString, dst::IO)
  • send_data(src::AbstractCmd, dst::IO)
  • send_data(src::IO, dst::IO)

Each combination guarantees the proper initialization and cleanup of its arguments whether it is opening a file and closing it upon completion or error, or creating a temporary output file and returning it upon completion or deleting it on error. If the arguments are commands or pipelines, those are correctly opened with the necessary read/write options.

Testing Example

Now that we've defined the send_data function, we must test it. But it has so many different kinds of arguments that it can accept, how do we produce tests for all of these combinations? ArgTools also offers tools to help with testing APIs that it lets you define. The example tests assume that the above definition of send_data has already been evaluated in the same Julia session.

using Test

# create a source file
src_file = tempname()
data = rand(UInt8, 666)
write(src_file, data)

print_sig(args...) =
    println("send_data(", join(map(typeof, args), ", "), ")")

arg_readers(src_file) do src
    # test 1-arg methods
    @arg_test src begin
        print_sig(src)
        dst_file = send_data(src)
        @test data == read(dst_file)
        rm(dst_file)
    end

    # test 2-arg methods
    arg_writers() do dst_file, dst
        @arg_test src dst begin
            print_sig(src, dst)
            @test dst == send_data(src, dst)
        end
        @test data == read(dst_file)
    end
end

# cleanup
rm(src_file)

Evaluating this testing code prints the following output:

send_data(String)
send_data(String, String)
send_data(String, Cmd)
send_data(String, Base.CmdRedirect)
send_data(String, IOStream)
send_data(String, Base.Process)
send_data(Cmd)
send_data(Cmd, String)
send_data(Cmd, Cmd)
send_data(Cmd, Base.CmdRedirect)
send_data(Cmd, IOStream)
send_data(Cmd, Base.Process)
send_data(Base.CmdRedirect)
send_data(Base.CmdRedirect, String)
send_data(Base.CmdRedirect, Cmd)
send_data(Base.CmdRedirect, Base.CmdRedirect)
send_data(Base.CmdRedirect, IOStream)
send_data(Base.CmdRedirect, Base.Process)
send_data(IOStream)
send_data(IOStream, String)
send_data(IOStream, Cmd)
send_data(IOStream, Base.CmdRedirect)
send_data(IOStream, IOStream)
send_data(IOStream, Base.Process)
send_data(Base.Process)
send_data(Base.Process, String)
send_data(Base.Process, Cmd)
send_data(Base.Process, Base.CmdRedirect)
send_data(Base.Process, IOStream)
send_data(Base.Process, Base.Process)

Test code doesn't isn't normally this verbose, but for this example it may be helpful to understand what's happening. What this output shows is the various ways in which this short bit of code tests invoking the send_data function. Here are some details about what's happening:

  • The call to arg_readers(src_file) evaluates the attached do block with five different arg values, which can be converted to readable arguments of the types: String, Cmd, CmdRedirect, IOStream and Process.

  • The call to @arg_test src begin ... end converts src into a readable arguments of those same types and closes or finalizes each at the end.

  • The call to arg_writers() evaluates the attached do block with five different arg values, which can be converted to writable arguments of the types: String, Cmd, CmdRedirect, IOStream and Process.

  • The call to @arg_test src dst begin ... end converts src into a readable arguments and dst into writeable arguments of the same set of types, and closes or otherwise finalizes each one at the end of the block.

This example test code illustrates some of the reasoning features of the testing API which might initially seem puzzling. For example, it shows why arg_readers and arg_writers don't simply produce argument values that can be passed to the function being tested, instead requiring conversion by the @arg_test macro. There are two reasons:

  1. The same value returned from arg_readers or arg_writers may need to be used in multiple tests and some argument types, such as IO handles, need to be initialized before each test and finalized after. The @arg_test block delimits where initialization and finalization occur.

  2. Sometimes operations need to be done after the @arg_test block but before the end of the enclosing arg_readers or arg_writers block. Testing that dst_file has the expected contents, i.e. @test data == read(dst_file), will not work reliably inside of the @arg_test block: data is not guaranteed to have been fully written to dst_file until dst is finalized. This is an issue when dst is an already-opened process, for example: arg_write leaves the process open since it recieved it that way (you might want to write more data to it), and while it does flush the handle, there is no guarantee that the process will get data to its final destination until the process has exited. Putting the test after the @arg_test block ensures that the process has terminated, so we can reliably test the contents of dst_file.

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