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oclif is a framework for building command-line interfaces (CLIs) using Node.js. You can use it like a simple flag parser, but it's capable of much more. It's designed to be extensible so that you can easily add plugins, such as the update warning plugin, or build your own for users to install at runtime.

The oclif generator creates a CLI project in TypeScript to get you started quickly. The generated CLI requires very few runtime dependencies and has minimal overhead.

Everything is customizable in oclif. Even the flag parser and help generation is optional and can be replaced. It's a platform to build upon that provides smart defaults without locking you in to any specific tools or behavior.


Only LTS Node versions are supported. If you want to ensure that users are on a specifc Node.js version, you can add the node package to your CLI.

To install the oclif CLI itself, run this command:

$ npm install --global oclif

Create an oclif Project from Scratch

To create a new oclif project from scratch, run the oclif generate command.

$ oclif generate mynewcli
Generating mynewcli in /Users/me/oclif/mynewcli
? Select a module type ESM
? NPM package name mynewcli
? Command bin name the CLI will export mynewcli
<more prompts...>

$ cd mynewcli
$ ./bin/dev.js hello world
hello world! (./src/commands/hello/world.ts)

The command creates a new project based on our templates. To learn more about what's included in these templates, read the documentation here.

After oclif generate completes, run your CLI using the included bin scripts.

  • Use bin/dev.js to run your CLI in development mode:

    $ ./bin/dev.js hello world
    hello world! (./src/commands/hello/world.ts)
  • Use bin/run.js to run your CLI in production mode:

    $ ./bin/run.js hello world
    hello world! (./src/commands/hello/world.ts)

Initialize oclif in an Existing Project

If you want to start using oclif inside an existing project, then use the oclif init command to add the necessary files, dependencies, and configuration.

$ oclif init
? Command bin name the CLI will export (my-pkg): my-pkg
? Select topic separator: spaces
? Select a module type: CommonJS
? Select a package manager: npm

Created CLI in my-pkg

oclif init adds the following:

  • bin scripts: bin/run.js, bin/run.cmd, bin/dev.js, and bin/dev.cmd. See bin scripts for more information.
  • oclif section to package.json with the bin, dirname, commands, and topicSeparator properties set. See Configuring Your CLI for more information.
  • @oclif/core to the dependencies property in your package.json (if it's not already there).
  • ts-node to the devDependencies property in your package.json (if it's not already there).

Next Steps

Add Commands

After you've generated an oclif project or initialized it in your existing project, start adding new commands. This example creates a new command with the TypeScript source file src/commands/foo/bar.ts that you can customize to do whatever you want:

$ oclif generate command foo:bar

See the documentation for flags and args which shows how to add flags and arguments to your command; the documentation for commands shows the other options you can set on your command.

Add Hooks

You can also add hooks to your CLI that allow you to further customize the behavior of your CLI:

$ oclif generate hook my-hook --event init

Further customizations

Other Tutorials

Our friend, @joshcanhelp, wrote a fantastic tutorial on his blog that we encourage you to read as well.