The commands Pants runs.

Pants commands are known as goals, such as test and lint.

To see the current list of goals, run:

❯ ./pants help goals

You'll see more goals activated as you activate more backends.

Running goals

For example:

❯ ./pants count-loc project/app_test.py
Language                 Files     Lines   Blanks  Comments     Code Complexity
Python                       1       374       16        19      339          6
Total                        1       374       16        19      339          6

You can also run multiple goals in a single run of Pants, in which case they will run sequentially:

# Format all code, and then test it:
❯ ./pants fmt test ::

Finally, Pants supports running goals in a --loop. In this mode, all goals specified will run
sequentially, and then Pants will wait until a relevant file has changed to try running them again.

# Re-run linters and testing continuously as files or their dependencies change:
❯ ./pants --loop lint test project/app_test.py

Use Ctrl+C to exit the --loop.

Goal arguments

Most goals require arguments to know what to work on.

You can use several argument types:

Argument typeSemanticsExample
File pathMatch the file./pants test project/tests.py
Directory pathMatch everything in the directory./pants test project/utils
:: globsMatch everything in the directory and below./pants test project::
Target addressesMatch the target./pants package project:tests

You can combine argument types, e.g. ./pants fmt src/go:: src/py/app.py.

To ignore something, prefix the argument with -. For example,
./pants test :: -project/integration_tests will run all your tests except for those in the
directory project/integration_tests.


Set [GLOBAL].use_deprecated_directory_cli_args_semantics = false in pants.toml

This will become the default in Pants 2.14.


Tip: advanced target selection, such as running over changed files

See Advanced target selection for alternative techniques to specify which files/targets to run on.

Goal options

Many goals also have options to change how they behave. Every option in Pants can be set via an environment variable, config file, and the command line.

To see if a goal has any options, run ./pants help $goal or ./pants help-advanced $goal. See Command Line Help for more information.

For example:

❯ ./pants help test
17:20:14.24 [INFO] Remote cache/execution options updated: reinitializing scheduler...
17:20:15.36 [INFO] Scheduler initialized.

`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.


You can then use the option by prefixing it with the goal name:

./pants --test-debug test project/app_test.py

You can also put the option after the file/target arguments:

./pants test project/app_test.py --test-debug

As a shorthand, if you put the option after the goal and before the file/target arguments, you can leave off the goal name in the flag:

./pants test --debug project/app_test.py

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