Manage C++ command line options using Boost Program Options

| category CPlusPlus  | tag C++ 

OS: Windows 7 C++ IDE: Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows Desktop

Install Boost

Download and unpack it to a directory (e.g. D:\myprograms\boost_1_55_0). This directory is called the Boost root directory.

Open the command prompt and change your current directory to the Boost root directory.

Then, type the following command:


and then, type the following command:


The first command prepares the Boost.Build system for use. The second command invokes Boost.Build to build the separately-compiled Boost libraries. The second command may take a very long time (e.g. ~1hr).

After the second command finished, you will find a new directory stage was generated under the Boost root directory. There is a subdiretory lib under directory stage (e.g. D:\myprograms\boost_1_55_0\stage\lib).

  1. Right-click project titile in the Solution Explorer pane of Visual Studio IDE and select Properties from the resulting pop-up menu.

  2. In Configuration Properties select C/C++,then select General, then select Additional Include Directories, enter the path to the Boost root directory (e.g. D:\myprograms\boost_1_55_0)

  3. In Configuration Properties select Linker, then select Additional Library Directories, enter the path to the Boost binaries (e.g. D:\myprograms\boost_1_55_0\stage\lib).

  4. From the Build menu, select Build Solution.

Example code

#include "stdafx.h"
#include <iostream>
#include <boost/program_options.hpp>

using namespace std;

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
namespace po = boost::program_options;

po::options_description description("Usage:");

("help,h", "Display this help message")
("version,v", "Display the version number")
("compression,c", po::value<int>(), "Compression level")
("score,s", po::value<int>()->default_value(60), "Final score");

po::variables_map vm;
po::store(po::command_line_parser(argc, argv).options(description).run(), vm);

if (vm.count("help")){
cout << description;

if (vm.count("compression")){
cout << "Compression level " << vm["compression"].as<int>() << endl;

return 0;


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