Skip to main content
Version: 2.21

Command line help

How to dynamically get more information on Pants's internals.

Run pants help to get basic help, including a list of commands you can run to get more specific help:

❯ pants help
Pants 2.14.0


pants [options] [goals] [inputs] Attempt the specified goals on the specified inputs.
pants help Display this usage message.
pants help goals List all installed goals.
pants help targets List all installed target types.
pants help subsystems List all configurable subsystems.
pants help tools List all external tools.
pants help api-types List all plugin API types.
pants help global Help for global options.
pants help-advanced global Help for global advanced options.
pants help [name] Help for a target type, goal, subsystem, plugin API type or rule.
pants help-advanced [goal/subsystem] Help for a goal or subsystem's advanced options.
pants help-all Print a JSON object containing all help info.

[inputs] can be:
A file, e.g. path/to/file.ext
A path glob, e.g. '**/*.ext' (in quotes to prevent premature shell expansion)
A directory, e.g. path/to/dir
A directory ending in `::` to include all subdirectories, e.g. path/to/dir::
A target address, e.g. path/to/dir:target_name.
Any of the above with a `-` prefix to ignore the value, e.g. -path/to/ignore_me::

Documentation at
Download at

For example, to get help on the test goal:

$ pants help test

`test` goal options

Run tests.

Config section: [test]

default: False
current value: False
Run tests sequentially in an interactive process. This is necessary, for example, when you add
breakpoints to your code.

default: False
current value: False
Force the tests to run, even if they could be satisfied from cache.

Related subsystems: coverage-py, download-pex-bin, pants-releases, pex, pex-binary-defaults, pytest, python-infer, python-native-code, python-repos, python-setup, setup-py-generation, setuptools, source, subprocess-environment

Note that when you run pants help <goal>, it outputs all related subsystems, such as pytest. You can then run pants help pytest to get more information.

You can also run pants help goals and pants help subsystems to get a list of all activated options scopes.

To get help on the python_tests target:

❯ pants help python_test

`python_test` target

A single Python test file, written in either Pytest style or unittest style.

All test util code, including ``, should go into a dedicated `python_source` target and then be included in the
`dependencies` field. (You can use the `python_test_utils` target to generate these `python_source` targets.)


Valid fields:

type: int | None
default: None
A timeout (in seconds) used by each test file belonging to this target.

This only applies if the option `--pytest-timeouts` is set to True.


Advanced Help

Many options are classified as advanced, meaning they are primarily intended to be used by admins, not by regular users.

Use help-advanced, e.g. pants help-advanced global or pants help-advanced pytest.