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by gleitz

gleitz /howdoi

instant coding answers via the command line

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instant coding answers via the command line

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Are you a hack programmer? Do you find yourself constantly Googling for how to do basic programming tasks?

Suppose you want to know how to format a date in bash. Why open your browser and read through blogs (risking major distraction) when you can simply stay in the console and ask howdoi:


$ howdoi format date bash \> DATE=`date +%Y-%m-%d`

howdoi will answer all sorts of queries:


$ howdoi print stack trace python \> import traceback \> \> try: \> 1/0 \> except: \> print '\>\>\> traceback \<\< traceback.print\_exc() \> print '\>\>\> end of traceback \<\< traceback.print\_exc() $ howdoi convert mp4 to animated gif \> video=/path/to/video.avi \> outdir=/path/to/output.gif \> mplayer "$video" \ \> -ao null \ \> -ss "00:01:00" \ # starting point \> -endpos 10 \ # duration in second \> -vo gif89a:fps=13:output=$outdir \ \> -vf scale=240:180 $ howdoi create tar archive \> tar -cf backup.tar --exclude "www/subf3" www



pip install howdoi



pip install git+



python install

New to howdoi ?


howdoi howdoi



usage: [-h] [-p POS] [-a] [-l] [-c] [-j] [-n NUM\_ANSWERS] [-C] [-v] [-e ENGINE] QUERY [QUERY ...] instant coding answers via the command line positional arguments: QUERY the question to answer optional arguments: -h, --help show this help message and exit -p POS, --pos POS select answer in specified position (default: 1) -a, --all display the full text of the answer -l, --link display only the answer link -c, --color enable colorized output -j, --json-output return answers in raw json format, to pretty print try 'howdoi pretty print json command line' -n NUM\_ANSWERS, --num-answers NUM\_ANSWERS number of answers to return -C, --clear-cache clear the cache -v, --version displays the current version of howdoi -e ENGINE, --engine ENGINE change search engine for this query only. Currently supported engines: google (default), bing, duckduckgo.

As a shortcut, if you commonly use the same parameters each time and don't want to type them, add something similar to your .bash_profile (or otherwise). This example gives you 5 colored results each time.


alias h='function hdi(){ howdoi $\* -c -n 5; }; hdi'

And then to run it from the command line simply type:


$h this is my query for howdoi


  • Benjamin Gleitzman (
    @gleitz <http:></http:>


  • Works with Python2 and Python3
  • A GUI that wraps howdoi
    is available here <https:></https:>
  • A Flask webapp that wraps howdoi
    is available here <https:></https:>
  • An Alfred Workflow for howdoi can be found at <http:></http:>
  • Slack integration available through
    slack-howdoi <https:></https:>
  • Howdoi uses a cache for faster access to previous questions. Caching functionality can be disabled by setting the HOWDOI_DISABLE_CACHE environment variable. The cache is stored in
  • You can set the HOWDOI_URL environment variable to change the source url for answers (default:
    , also supported:
    , full list <http:></http:>_ ).
  • You can set the HOWDOI_SEARCH_ENGINE environment variable to change the underlying search engine for StackOverflow links (default:
    , also supported:
    ). The -e flag will switch the underlying engine for a single query.
  • Setting the HOWDOI_COLORIZE environment variable will colorize the output by default.
  • Special thanks to Rich Jones (
    @miserlou <https:></https:>
    _) for the idea.


  • Checkout the repo
  • Run
    python -m howdoi.howdoi QUERY
    (if you try running
    python howdoi/
    you might get
    ValueError: Attempted relative import in non-package

If you would like to use howdoi from within a python script, just pass your query to


: ::

from howdoi import howdoi query = "for loop python" output = howdoi.howdoi(query)

Or parse it yourself (either work):


from howdoi import howdoi query = "for loop python" parser = howdoi.get\_parser() args = vars(parser.parse\_args(query.split(' '))) output = howdoi.howdoi(args)


I'm happy to accept pull requests that make howdoi better. If you're thinking of contributing and want a little feedback before you jump into the codebase, post an

issue <https:></https:>

_ on Github.

Before PRs are accepted they must pass all

Travis tests <https:></https:>

_ and not have any flake8 or pylint warnings or errors. This projects uses vanilla configuration files for both linters (




in the root directory), but with a max line length of 119.


You might get the following error when installing with Homebrew:


==\> python install Please make the appropriate changes for your system and try again.

Fix the error by executing the following command:


sudo chmod -R go+w /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/

An official lxml for python 3.3+ for windows has not yet been released. You may get an error while installing. Try and install an unofficial binary for lxml from


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