Home » How can I pass a command line argument into a shell script?

How can I pass a command line argument into a shell script?

Solutons:


The shell command and any arguments to that command appear as numbered shell variables: $0 has the string value of the command itself, something like script, ./script, /home/user/bin/script or whatever. Any arguments appear as "$1", "$2", "$3" and so on. The count of arguments is in the shell variable "$#".

Common ways of dealing with this involve shell commands getopts and shift. getopts is a lot like the C getopt() library function. shift moves the value of $2 to $1, $3 to $2, and so on; $# gets decremented. Code ends up looking at the value of "$1", doing things using a caseesac to decide on an action, and then doing a shift to move $1 to the next argument. It only ever has to examine $1, and maybe $#.

You can access passed arguments with $n where n is the argument number – 1, 2, 3, .... You pass the arguments just like you would with any other command.

$ cat myscript
#!/bin/bash
echo "First arg: $1"
echo "Second arg: $2"
$ ./myscript hello world
First arg: hello
Second arg: world

On a bash script, I personally like to use the following script to set parameters:

#!/bin/bash

helpFunction()
{
   echo ""
   echo "Usage: $0 -a parameterA -b parameterB -c parameterC"
   echo -e "t-a Description of what is parameterA"
   echo -e "t-b Description of what is parameterB"
   echo -e "t-c Description of what is parameterC"
   exit 1 # Exit script after printing help
}

while getopts "a:b:c:" opt
do
   case "$opt" in
      a ) parameterA="$OPTARG" ;;
      b ) parameterB="$OPTARG" ;;
      c ) parameterC="$OPTARG" ;;
      ? ) helpFunction ;; # Print helpFunction in case parameter is non-existent
   esac
done

# Print helpFunction in case parameters are empty
if [ -z "$parameterA" ] || [ -z "$parameterB" ] || [ -z "$parameterC" ]
then
   echo "Some or all of the parameters are empty";
   helpFunction
fi

# Begin script in case all parameters are correct
echo "$parameterA"
echo "$parameterB"
echo "$parameterC"

With this structure, we don’t rely on the order of the parameters, as we’re defining a key letter to each one of them. Also, the help function will be printed all the times that the parameters are defined wrongly. It’s very useful when we have a lot of scripts with different parameters to handle. It works as the following:

$ bash myscript -a "String A" -b "String B" -c "String C"
String A
String B
String C

$ bash myscript -a "String A" -c "String C" -b "String B"
String A
String B
String C

$ bash myscript -a "String A" -c "String C" -f "Non-existent parameter"
myscript: illegal option -- f

Usage: myscript -a parameterA -b parameterB -c parameterC
    -a Description of what is parameterA
    -b Description of what is parameterB
    -c Description of what is parameterC

$ bash myscript -a "String A" -c "String C"
Some or all of the parameters are empty

Usage: myscript -a parameterA -b parameterB -c parameterC
    -a Description of what is parameterA
    -b Description of what is parameterB
    -c Description of what is parameterC

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