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parseargs: Simplifies input processing for functions with multiple options

version (5.83 KB) by Malcolm Wood
For parsing function arguments supplied as name-value pairs, e.g. 'XLim',[0 10],'YLim',[0 100]


Updated 01 Sep 2016

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Based on same idea as the excellent "parse_pv_pairs", and similar to the "inputParser" object added to MATLAB in R2007a, this function handles names and values for properties in any order, and assigns the values to a structure containing default values.
For example, in your function which has options "StartTime" and
"StopOnError", create a structure of defaults and pass inputs to parseargs:

| function myfunction(varargin)
| X.StartTime = 0;
| X.StopOnError = true;
| X = parseargs(X,varargin{:})

If the user specifies inputs:
| myfunction('StopOnError',false,'StartTime',5)
the structure will be modified accordingly.

The aim of this function is to ease as much as possible the tedious and error prone task of handling inputs, specifically with a view to application development (rather than quick scripting), where robustness is of high importance.

To this end, the function enforces some rules, partly to reduce the chance of mistakes by the caller, and partly to save the user from writing additional code to enforce them:
1) Property names must be specified in full, and are case-sensitive
2) The data type of a property cannot be changed (unless the property was initially empty)
3) Scalar values must remain scalar
4) Where the original value is a cell array it must contain strings. The new value must be one of these strings, and if no new value is specified, the first string is selected as a default.

Cite As

Malcolm Wood (2020). parseargs: Simplifies input processing for functions with multiple options (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

Comments and Ratings (5)


I am trying this, but it's not passing the argcheck of inputParser...

function [varargout] = struct2varargin(instruct)

fields = fieldnames (instruct);
values = struct2cell (instruct);

varargout = {};
% length(fields)
% length(values)

for idx =1:length(values)
varargout{2*idx-1} = char(fields{idx});
varargout{2*idx} = values{idx};



Does it exist somewhere, the inverse function for this?

What I need to do is:

savestate = f_getstate();

Input parameters for f_setstate has to be pv pairs, because i am using inputParser to parse it.
At the same time, I like savestate being a structure, because it's easier to hanlde than pv pairs.

Dimitri Shvorob

Obsolete: 'help inputparser' for Matlab 2007 and later.

Yogesh Mehta

Thanks. Just what I wanted.

John D'Errico

Its a nice variant that you may find useful. This uses a more strongly typed style than parse_pv_pairs. Parseargs can check for errors in input, but it is more restrictive. It will not allow you to have a property that is by default a numeric variable, but may also be a character string.
Good help, well done.


Updated license

Added copyright lines and suppressed M-Lint warnings.


MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R12.1
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux