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2.3 Task Arguments

The <task-args> part of the command line is a list of parameter assignments, each giving the value of one of the named parameters belonging to the task which is specified in the <task-name> part.

The general form of each parameter assignment is

If you want to set the parameter to the null value, which is legal for some but not all parameters, use the special string "null", or just leave the value blank ("<param-name>="). In some cases you can optionally leave out the <param-name> part of the assignment (i.e. the parameter is positionally determined); this is indicated in the task's usage description if the parameter is described like [<param-name>=]<param-value> rather than <param-name>=<param-value>. If the <param-value> contains spaces or other special characters, then in most cases, such as from the Unix shell, you will have to quote it somehow. How this is done depends on your platform, but usually surrounding the whole value in single quotes will do the trick.

Tasks may have many parameters, and you don't have to set all of them explicitly on the comand line. For a parameter which you don't set, two things can happen. In many cases, it will default to some sensible value. Sometimes however, you may be prompted for the value to use. In the latter case, a line like this will be written to the terminal:

   matcher - Name of matching algorithm [sky]:
This is prompting you for the value of the parameter named matcher. "Name of matching algorithm" is a short description of what that parameter does. "sky" is the default value (if there is no default, no value will appear in square brackets). At this point you can do one of four things: Under normal circumstances, most parameters which have a legal default value will default to it if they are not set on the command line, and you will only be prompted for those where there is no default or the program thinks there's a good chance you might not want to use it. You can influence this however using flags to the stilts command itself (see Section 2.1). If you supply the -prompt flag, then you will be prompted for every parameter you have not explicitly set. If you supply -batch on the other hand, you won't be prompted for any parameters (and if you fail to set any without legal default values, the task will fail).

If you want to see the actual values of the parameters for a task as it runs, including prompted values and defaulted ones which you haven't specified explicitly, you can use the -verbose flag after the stilts command:

   % stilts -verbose tcopy cat.fits cat.vot ifmt=fits
   INFO: tcopy in=cat.fits out=cat.vot ifmt=fits ofmt=(auto)

If you make a parameter assignment on the command line for a parameter which is not used by the task in question, STILTS will issue an error message and the task will fail. Note some parameters are only used dependent on the presence or values of other parameters, so even supplying a parameter which is documented in the task's usage can have this effect. This is done on the assumption that if you have supplied a spurious parameter it's probably a mistake and you should be given the opportunity to correct it. But if you want to be free to make these mistakes without the task failing, you can supply the -allowunused flag as described in Section 2.1, in which case they will just result in a warning.

Note that when running STILTS from the shell, it may be necessary to quote some parameter values, in case they contain spaces or other characters which the shell may try to interpret. This can typically be done by writing assignments of the form

but things can get more hairy; see Section 10.6 for more detail.

Extensive help is available from stilts itself about task and its parameters, as described in the next section.

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