#shell #scripts #commandline #subprocess #pipeline


Common rust commandline macros and utils, to write shell script like tasks easily

4 releases (breaking)

0.4.0 Feb 21, 2021
0.3.0 Feb 21, 2021
0.2.0 Feb 21, 2021
0.1.0 Sep 7, 2020

#890 in Command line utilities

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Rust command-line library

Common rust command-line macros and utilities, to write shell-script like tasks easily in rust programming language. Available at crates.io.

Why you need this

If you need to run some external commands in rust, the std::process::Command is a good abstraction layer on top of different OS syscalls. It provides fine-grained control over how a new process should be spawned, and it allows you to wait for process to finish and check the exit status or collect all of its output. However, when Redirection or Piping is needed, you need to set up the parent and child IO handles manually, like this in the rust cookbook, which is often a tedious work.

A lot of developers just choose shell(sh, bash, ...) scripts for such tasks, by using < to redirect input, > to redirect output and '|' to pipe outputs. In my experience, this is the only good parts of shell script. You can find all kinds of pitfalls and mysterious tricks to make other parts of shell script work. As the shell scripts grow, they will ultimately be unmaintainable and no one wants to touch them any more.

This cmd_lib library is trying to provide the redirection and piping capabilities, and other facilities to make writing shell-script like tasks easily without launching any shell. For the rust cookbook examples, they can usually be implemented as one line of rust macro with the help of this library, as in the examples/rust_cookbook_external.rs. Since they are rust code, you can always rewrite them in rust natively in the future, if necessary without spawning external commands.

What this library provides

Macros to run external commands

  • run_cmd! --> CmdResult

    use cmd_lib::run_cmd;
    let msg = "I love rust";
    run_cmd!(echo $msg)?;
    run_cmd!(|msg| echo "This is the message: $msg")?;
    // pipe commands are also supported
    run_cmd!(du -ah . | sort -hr | head -n 10)?;
    // or a group of commands
    // if any command fails, just return Err(...)
    let file = "/tmp/f";
    let keyword = "rust";
    if run_cmd! {
        cat ${file} | grep ${keyword};
        echo "bad cmd" >&2;
        ls /nofile || true;
        ls oops;
        cat oops;
    }.is_err() {
        // your error handling code
  • run_fun! --> FunResult

    use cmd_lib::run_fun;
    let version = run_fun!(rustc --version).unwrap();
    eprintln!("Your rust version is {}", version);
    // with pipes
    let n = run_fun!(echo "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" | wc -w).unwrap();
    eprintln!("There are {} words in above sentence", n);

Intuitive parameters passing

When passing parameters to run_cmd! and run_fun! macros, if they are not part to rust String literals, they will be converted to string as an atomic component, so you don't need to quote them. The parameters will be like $a or ${a} in run_cmd! or run_fun! macros.

If they are part of string literals, you need to capture the declarations with | a, b, ... | at the macros' beginnings. e.g.

let dir = "my folder";
run_cmd!(|dir| echo "Creating $dir at /tmp")?;
run_cmd!(mkdir -p /tmp/$dir)?;

// or with group commands:
let dir = "my folder";
run_cmd!(echo "Creating $dir at /tmp"; mkdir -p /tmp/$dir)?;

You can consider "" as glue, so everything inside the quotes will be treated as a single atomic component.

If they are part of Raw string literals, there will be no string interpolation, the same as in idiomatic rust. However, you can always use format! macro to form the new string. For example:

// string interpolation
let key_word = "time";
let awk_opts = format!(r#"/{}/ {{print $(NF-3) " " $(NF-1) " " $NF}}"#, key_word);
run_cmd!(ping -c 10 www.google.com | awk $awk_opts)?;

Redirection and Piping

Right now piping and stdin, stdout, stderr redirections are supported. Most parts are the same as in bash scripts. See examples at examples/redirect.rs

Macros to define, get and set global variables

  • proc_var! to define thread local global variable
  • proc_var_get! to get the value
  • proc_var_set! to set the value
use cmd_lib::{ proc_var, proc_var_get, proc_var_set };
proc_var!(DELAY, f64, 1.0);
const DELAY_FACTOR: f64 = 0.8;
proc_var_set!(DELAY, |d| *d *= DELAY_FACTOR);
let d = proc_var_get!(DELAY);
// check more examples in examples/tetris.rs

Macros to set scoped process environment variables

  • proc_env_set! to define process running related environment variables
  • Right now, only PWD and CMD_LIB_DEBUG are supported
  • More variables like GID, UID, UMASK ... are on the way
use cmd_lib::{proc_env_set, run_cmd, run_fun, CmdResult};
proc_env_set!(CMD_LIB_DEBUG = 1); // to print commands
    proc_env_set!(PWD = "/tmp");

Builtin commands


cd: set process current directory

run_cmd! {
    cd /tmp;
    ls | wc -l;

Notice that builtin cd will only change with current scope and it will restore the previous current directory when it exits the scope.

Use std::env::set_current_dir if you want to change the current working directory for the whole program.

Complete Example

See examples directory, which contains a tetris game converted from bash implementation and other simple examples.


See rust-shell-script, which can compile rust-shell-script scripting language directly into rust code.

No runtime deps