Save frequently used options

You can save frequently used options and arguments in an argument file, one per line, then reuse them via a @FILE argument on the command line.

Here’s an example. I keep frequently-used options for quick daily reports in a file called simple.args. The name can be anything; I use a .args suffix so I can find these easily. Here’s the content of simple.args:

--alias=/:(business|personal):/=:
--alias=/:(bank|cash|online):/=:
--alias=/:bofi:/=:b
--alias=/:unify:/=:u
--alias=/:wf:/=:w
-2
cur:.

The format is one command-line flag or command-line argument per line. Special characters should have one less level of quoting than at the command prompt (so no quotes around those (|) characters), and spaces should be avoided except inside quotes (so = is used between flags and arguments).

Now if I write @simple.args in a hledger command line, it will be replaced by all of the above options/flags.

(In case you’re wondering about this example: it removes some detail, giving simplified reports which were easier for me to read at a glance):

  • the aliases simplify the chart of accounts, hiding some distinctions (eg business vs. personal) and flattening some bank account names

  • the -2 depth flag limits account depth to 2, hiding deeper subaccounts

  • the cur:. query argument shows only single-character currencies, hiding a bunch of cluttersome commodities I don’t want to see

Usage

Generate a balance report showing the simplified accounts:

$ hledger bal @simple.args

Start a live-updating hledger-ui showing the simplified asset accounts only:

$ hledger-ui --watch @simple.args assets

Options in the arguments file can be overridden by similar options later on the command line, in the usual way. Eg, to show just a little more account detail:

$ hledger bal @simple.args -3

Suppressing this feature

If you actually need to write an argument beginning with @, eg let’s say you have an account pattern beginning with that character, you’ll want a way to disable this feature. On unix systems at least, you can do that by inserting a -- (double hyphen) argument first. Eg:

$ hledger bal @somewhere.com       # looks for additional arguments in the ./somewhere.com file
$ hledger bal -- @somewhere.com    # matches account names containing "@somewhere.com"

On windows, this double hyphen trick might require a hledger built with GHC 8.2+.