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 2.8.0


  ./pants [option ...] [goal ...] [file/target ...]   Attempt the specified goals on the specified files/targets.
  ./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 global                                 Help for global options.
  ./pants help-advanced global                        Help for global advanced options.
  ./pants help [target_type/goal/subsystem]           Help for a target type, goal or subsystem.
  ./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.

  [file] can be:
     A path glob, such as '**/*.ext', in quotes to prevent premature shell expansion.

  [target] can be:
    path/to/dir for a target whose name is the same as the directory name.
    path/to/dir:  to include all targets in the specified directory.
    path/to/dir:: to include all targets found recursively under the directory.

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.