Showcasing the power of easygen with ffcvt

Showcasing the power of easygen with ffcvt

The easygen is an easy to use universal code/text generator.
On top of that, it can provide options for Go applications from the command line as well. As matter of fact, it is using its own commandline flag code auto-generation capability to code itself. Such commandline flag code auto-generation functionality has been improved sine then.

Readability improvement

If you take a closer look at the config.go file, you will notice that the code block are now broken down into logical chunks. The extra line breaks are added so that related option-handling are grouped together now:

  • It almost looks like being manually written, not by the commandline-flag code auto-generation.
  • Note also that in the struct definition, there is an anonymous field for default values population. This feature is not part of the standard easygen commandline flag code auto-generation, but that doesn’t prevent the code from being automatically generated either. The method is documented clearly at the top of the driving ffcvt.yaml file. Check the commit history to see how such file is driving the whole code auto-generation.

Usage help improvement

The problem of using the Go flag‘s flag.PrintDefaults() to show usage help is that, the usage help print out is not in the order that the options are defined/added, but according to the flag string instead. I.e., the logical order/grouping of the flags are broken up, and presented in an entirely different way. One solution is to strategically name the commandline flag strings so that similar options are grouped near each other, like this:

$ easygen 

 easygen [flags] YamlFileName


  -debug=0: debugging level
  -et=".tmpl": extension of template file
  -ey=".yaml": extension of yaml file
  -html=false: treat the template file as html instead of text
  -rf="": replace from, the from string used for the replace function
  -rt="": replace to, the to string used for the replace function
  -tf="": .tmpl template file name (default: same as .yaml file)
  -ts="": template string (in text)

YamlFileName: The name for the .yaml data and .tmpl template file
 Only the name part, without extension. Can include the path as well.

For easygen I can still use that method to make use of flag.PrintDefaults(), but for ffcvt, it fails miserably because I’m providing options for both audio/video encoding. I want to group not by audio or video parameters, but by operations instead. This is why the USAGE_SUMMARY was introduced. Take a look:

  • It is the quick usage help output produced when ffcvt is invoked without any parameters, produced by the automatically generated code config.go. Everything from this output is automatically generated.
  • Grouping operations together make much more sense for this case. The output from USAGE_SUMMARY (the section after the “Flags:“) is much more organized, and appealing to human eyes too, comparing to the default help (the section after the “Details:“). Moreover, that in turn, makes linking/documenting environment variables that corresponding to the command line parameters in usage help possible as well.

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