input: automatise commands using external inputs

input is a way to use external data (like file in a specific format) as input arguments. It may be seen as a something similar to --output but for inputs.


CSV (for Comma-Separated Values) is a common format for tabular data. It is widely used in spreadsheet software (at least at en export format). With csv command, you can use columns a CSV file as arguments to li commands.

To set the command, you’ll write in sequence what to do with each column of your data. For each column you can:

  • specify a short option name using -s ARGUMENTS, --short ARGUMENTS (short options are the ones with a single -)

  • specify a long option name using -l ARGUMENTS, --long ARGUMENTS (long options are the ones with two -)

  • specify a positional argument using -p ARGUMENTS, --positional ARGUMENTS

  • indicate to use the column data with stdin using -i, --stdin

  • ignore the column if it’s not used in the li command, using -x, --ignore

After each column specification, you may use a filter to manage the value. So far the following filters are available:

-S, --split

This will split the value (on any whitespace character, discarding empty values) and repeat the option which each item. This is useful when you are using an option which can be repeated (like -t TAG, --tag TAG with li blog set).


Indicate what to do if the column value is empty (by default en empty string is used). You can use either skip to skip the whole row, or ignore so the option will not be set at all (which is different from the default which will still set the option but with an empty string).

CSV file is read from stdin, and by default unicode is expected. You may force an encoding by using --encoding ENCODING.

By default all the rows are read, but you may want to ignore first rows (if they are used for columns title, or if you have already handled part of the list). To do that, use the -r ROW, --row ROW option.

When you test your command, it is better to do a dry run to see what will happen. The -D, --debug option is here for that: if you set it, the commands won’t be actually run, but the exact command which would be executed will be printed on screen. You should always use this option first until you’re sure that what you want will be executed.

You may add verbosity level to help debugging. With a verbosity level of 2 (i.e. -vv) the value read from CSV will be printed.

By default stdout and stderr of each launched command is ignored, but you can log them to files using respectively --log LOG and --log-err LOG_ERR where LOG and LOG_ERR are paths to a log file to create.

Once all the sequence and options are set, you write the li command that you want to use, with all the needed static option (i.e. options which must be used each time).


Louise as a spreadsheet with a table like this:



internal data


Some title

a body


li demo

Something else

another body


li demo

Third one

third body


special_tag li

This one doesn’t have a body


li demo numbers

last one

last body


li demo numbers

She wants to use it as input data to create blog posts.

She first saves the file using CSV format, let’s say to ~/blog_input.csv.

Then she checks li blog set --help to get name of options to use. She’ll need to use --title for title, stdin for the body and -t for tags. Louise wants to activate comments, so she also wants to use -C for all posts, and a tag to says it’s coming from the spreadsheet (using -t spreadsheet) .

The first row of the table is used for columns headers, so she’ll start at row 1 with -r 1.

There is one row without body, Louise want to skip any row without body so she’ll use the -E skip filter, just after specifying the body row.

Reading column by column, the sequence is like this:

-l title

a title which goes to the --title long option of li blog

-i -E skip

a body which goes to the stdin of li blog. If the body is empty, the -E skip filter tells to skip the whole row.


the internal data column is not used, so it is ignored

-s t -S

the last column are the tags, so the -t short option is used. There are several of them separated by spaces, so the -S filter is used to split the values.

First she’ll use the -D, --debug to check that the commands which will be executed are the expected one:

$ li input csv -D -r 1 -l title -i -E skip -x -s t -S blog set -C -t spreadsheet < ~/blog_input.csv

Everything seems fine, so she’ll actually launch the command by running the same command line but without the -D option:

$ li input csv -r 1 -l title -i -E skip -x -s t -S blog set -C -t spreadsheet < ~/blog_input.csv

She could also have used --log and --log-err to check the logs of each command:

$ li input csv -r 1 -l title -i -E skip -x -s t -S --log /tmp/jp_blog_stdout.log --log-err /tmp/jp_blog_stderr.log blog set -C -t spreadsheet < ~/blog_input.csv