Invocation basics

Invoke’s command line invocation utilizes traditional style command-line flags and task name arguments. The most basic form is just Invoke by itself (which behaves the same as -h/--help):

$ invoke
Usage: invoke [core options] [task [task-options], ...]

$ invoke -h
[same as above]

Core options with no tasks can either cause administrative actions, like listing available tasks:

$ invoke --list
Available tasks:


Or they can modify behavior, such as overriding the default task collection name Invoke looks for:

$ invoke --collection mytasks --list
Available tasks:


Tasks and task options

The simplest task invocation, for a task requiring no parameterization:

$ invoke mytask

Tasks may take parameters in the form of flag arguments:

$ invoke build --format=html
$ invoke build --format html
$ invoke build -f pdf
$ invoke build -f=pdf

Note that both long and short style flags are supported, and that equals signs are optional in both cases.

Boolean options are simple flags with no arguments, which turn the Python level values from False to True:

$ invoke build --progress-bar

Naturally, more than one flag may be given at a time:

$ invoke build --progress-bar -f pdf

Per-task help / printing available flags

To get help for a specific task, you can give the task name as an argument to the core --help/-h option, or give --help/-h after the task (assuming it doesn’t itself define a --help or -h). When help is requested, you’ll see the task’s docstring (if any) and per-argument/flag help output:

$ invoke --help build  # or invoke build --help


Options for 'build':
  -f STRING, --format=STRING  Which build format type to use
  -p, --progress-bar          Display progress bar

Globbed short flags

Boolean short flags may be combined into one flag expression, so that e.g.:

$ invoke build -qv

is equivalent to (and expanded into, during parsing):

$ invoke build -q -v

If the first flag in a globbed short flag token is not a boolean but takes a value, the rest of the glob is taken to be the value instead. E.g.:

$ invoke build -fpdf

is expanded into:

$ invoke build -f pdf

and not:

$ invoke build -f -p -d -f

Optional flag values

You saw a hint of this with --help specifically, but non-core options may also take optional values, if declared as optional. For example, say your task has a --log flag that activates logging:

$ invoke compile --log

but you also want it to be configurable regarding where to log:

$ invoke compile --log=foo.log

You could implement this with an additional argument (e.g. --log and --log-location) but sometimes the concise API is the more useful one.

To enable this, specify which arguments are of this ‘hybrid’ optional-value type inside @task:

def compile(ctx, log=None):
    if log:
        log_file = '/var/log/my.log'
        # Value was given, vs just-True
        if isinstance(log, unicode):
            log_file = log
        # Replace w/ your actual log setup...
    # Do things that might log here...

When optional flag values are used, the values seen post-parse follow these rules:

  • If the flag is not given at all (invoke compile) the default value is filled in as normal.
  • If it is given with a value (invoke compile --log=foo.log) then the value is stored normally.
  • If the flag is given with no value (invoke compile --log), it is treated as if it were a bool and set to True.

Resolving ambiguity

There are a number of situations where ambiguity could arise for a flag that takes an optional value:

  • When a task takes positional arguments and they haven’t all been filled in by the time the parser arrives at the optional-value flag;
  • When the token following one of these flags looks like it is itself a flag; or
  • When that token has the same name as another task.

In any of these situations, Invoke’s parser will refuse the temptation to guess and raise an error.

Dashes vs underscores in flag names

In Python, it’s common to use underscored_names for keyword arguments, e.g.:

def mytask(ctx, my_option=False):

However, the typical convention for command-line flags is dashes, which aren’t valid in Python identifiers:

$ invoke mytask --my-option

Invoke works around this by automatically generating dashed versions of underscored names, when it turns your task function signatures into command-line parser flags.

Therefore, the two examples above actually work fine together – my_option ends up mapping to --my-option.

In addition, leading (_myopt) and trailing (myopt_) underscores are ignored, since invoke ---myopt and invoke --myopt- don’t make much sense.

Automatic Boolean inverse flags

Boolean flags tend to work best when setting something that is normally False, to True:

$ invoke mytask --yes-please-do-x

However, in some cases, you want the opposite - a default of True, which can be easily disabled. For example, colored output:

def run_tests(ctx, color=True):
    # ...

Here, what we really want on the command line is a --no-color flag that sets color=False. Invoke handles this for you: when setting up CLI flags, booleans which default to True generate a --no-<name> flag instead.

Multiple tasks

More than one task may be given at the same time, and they will be executed in order. When a new task is encountered, option processing for the previous task stops, so there is no ambiguity about which option/flag belongs to which task. For example, this invocation specifies two tasks, clean and build, both parameterized:

$ invoke clean -t all build -f pdf

Another example with no parameterizing:

$ invoke clean build

Mixing things up

Core options are similar to task options, in that they must be specified before any tasks are given. This invoke says to load the mytasks collection and call that collection’s foo task:

$ invoke --collection mytasks foo --foo-args