Command line interface guidelines


Much of Beaker’s command line interface may not currently meet these guidelines, due to historical inconsistencies. These guidelines are for new code.

Writing in Python

Scripts should always be written in Python. The optparse module should be used, as Beaker is written for Python 2.6 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and derivatives.

When adding a new command to beaker client create a new module in the bkr.client.commands package, using an existing module as a guideline.

When writing server side scripts, a module should be created in the package and then added to the console_scripts key in Server/ Always prepend beaker- to the name of the script. The %files server section in beaker.spec will need to be updated as well, see the existing entries for the correct way to do this.

The above guidelines apply for scripts written for the lab controller as well, except the console_scripts key is updated in the LabController/ file and the %files lab-controller section of beaker.spec needs to be modified.

Comply with POSIX standards

Endeavour to stick to the GNU standards unless there is a good reason not to or anything in this guide expressly goes against it.


The primary goal of Beaker’s CLI utilities are for interfacing with scripts for the purposes of automation.

To this end, these utilities’ defaults should be geared around this. If an operation is mutative, no output should be printed to stdout. If an operation is selective, machine readable output should be printed to stdout (i.e JSON).

An exit code of zero indicates success, non-zero on failure.

These utilities are also often used by humans and so human readable output is also highly desired. If there is no default output, than make sure that the --verbose option is usable, and gives sensible and appreciable output for human consumption. If the default output is designed to be machine readable, then make sure there is a more human friendly option for --format.

Whenever it is practical to implement, CLI users should not see Python tracebacks for things that we anticipate them getting wrong, as the traceback is just irrelevant noise in that situation. Instead, the CLI should catch the relevant exception, display a clear message on stderr that explains what went wrong (and ideally how to fix it), and then exit with a non-zero return code.

The argument parsing library automatically takes care of this for many simpler user errors, and the client command framework should automatically handle it for authentication errors and most server side data validation and access control errors.

This CLI requirement also impacts the server code handling HTTP requests, as it usually means that an appropriate exception should be raised in Beaker itself, rather than allowing exceptions from library code to cascade up to the web framework and hence on to the CLI user. The bkr.server.flask_util.convert_internal_errors() context manager is provided specifically for this purpose.

However, care needs to be taken not to hide genuine programming errors by misreporting them as errors in the user’s input.

Backwards compatibility

Beaker’s CLI is considered an API. See API compatibility regarding Beaker’s policy on changing and designing APIs.