How to navigate the RiskScape CLI

RiskScape uses similar conventions to other Linux-based command-line utilities. If you are not familiar with using CLI (Command Line Interface) tools, this page has some tips on getting started.

It’s OK to ask for help

All RiskScape CLI commands include some basic help to point you in the right direction. You can always access this help by adding --help or -h to the end of your command. E.g.

riskscape -h

If you forget how to access the help, you can just type riskscape on its own and it will display the same basic help message.

Running riskscape --help outputs a lot of information. We’ll go through and break down what this all means in more detail. First, let’s look at RiskScape’s sub-commands.


The RiskScape CLI actually consists of many different sub-commands. Each sub-command achieves a different aim.

Most RiskScape sub-commands boil down to the syntax: riskscape <thing> <action> [options]. For example, to run a model you would use riskscape model run.

Common sub-command actions are:

  • list: Output a list of all the things available.

  • info <name>: Provide more help information about one specific thing.

  • run <name>: Performs the specific thing you asked it to do.

For models, riskscape model list will tell us what models are available for us to run.

For the thing-part of the sub-command, some frequently used options are:


The first part of the help command gives an example of the usage. This is a short summary of all the acceptable input for this command.

Usage: riskscape model run [-hr] [--checksum] [--no-progress-indicator]
                           [-f=<format>] [-o=<outputDir>]
                           [--parameters=<parametersFile>] [-p=<parameters>]...

To decipher this output, you need to know that:

  • The square brackets ([]) mean that something is optional and so it doesn’t have to be specified.

  • The angle brackets (<>) denote placeholders that you need to replace with your own input. E.g. for <modelId> you might specify the default model template.

  • The ellipsis indicates that the option that can be specified multiple times. E.g. --parameter=p1=value1 --parameter=p2=value2.

CLI Options

The second part of the help output displays the same usage options but in more detail.

Run a model, save results
      <modelId>              ID of the model to run. See `model list` for
                               possible choices
      --checksum             Produce checksums for model output based on the
                               model input
  -f, --format=<format>      Set an output file format to take effect when no
                               format has been specified in the model itself.
                               See `riskscape format list` for supported formats
  -h, --help
                             Do not output progress monitor
  -o, --output=<outputDir>   Save the model results as files in the specified
                               location. By default, results are saved in a
                                `<projectOutputDirectory>` can be set in the
                               project.ini file but defaults to a directory
                               called `output` beside the project file. When an
                               output location is supplied, these extra
                               sub-directories are omitted. Any existing
                               results in the output location will not be
                               overwritten unless `--replace` is used. Instead,
                               the file name will be incremented, e.g.
                               event-impact-1.csv, event-impact-2.csv
  -p, --param, --parameter=<parameters>
                             Supply parameters to the model in the format
                               key=value, e.g. `-p asset=path-to-assets.shp`.
                               Give the name alone to clear a parameter, i.e
                               `-p name` would clear the value set for the name
                               parameter.  Parameters supplied via
                               `--parameter` take precedence over any model
                               supplied defaults and any values supplied via
                             Supply parameters to the model in an INI formatted
                               file.  Similar to `--parameter`, but allows many
                               parameters to be set at once.  Parameters are
                               read from a single INI section (if the file only
                               has one section), or an INI section with the
                               same name as the model being run.  Parameters
                               supplied via `--parameters` take precedence over
                               any model supplied defaults, but not over any
                               supplied via `--parameter`.
      --print                Print the realized pipeline without executing it.
                               Useful for trouble-shooting
  -r, --replace              When an output location is specified, this will
                               replace any existing files with the new results,
                               i.e. any previous results in the output location
                               will be overwritten.

This output includes:

  • The CLI flag to use. Note that some options have both a short (e.g. -o) and long (e.g. --output) alternative.

  • What other information needs to be provided when using the option. E.g. --output needs to be followed by an output file path, whereas --print can be specified on its own.

  • A brief description of what the option actually does.

Common CLI options

Some CLI options are common to all RiskScape commands. These options need to be specified directly after the riskscape command and before any other options. E.g. riskscape [common-options] model run [sub-command-options].

Examples of common options:

  • Specifying a project file (--project). This is where RiskScape will try to load all your types, functions, and bookmarks from.

  • Show all errors for your project (--show-project-errors). When something in your project is misconfigured (e.g. trying to use a file that doesn’t exist), RiskScape won’t display detailed error information by default until you actually try to use the broken thing. Instead it gives you a summary message like:

    There were 2 problem(s) during engine initialization, run riskscape with --show-project-errors for more details

    This avoids noise when you have cascading problems - for example, one broken thing that gets used by many different models.

  • Show more detailed information when an unexpected error occurs (-e or --show-stacktrace).

  • Increase the detail logged (--log-level).

  • Seed the random-number generation (--random-seed), for reproducible results when randomness is involved.

These common options are displayed in the riskscape --help output.

Software version

The riskscape --version command will tell you the exact version of RiskScape you’re using. Try running it now.

Knowing the version you have got is helpful when deciding whether to upgrade RiskScape. New features and bug fixes will become available as new RiskScape versions are released. For example, if you are using older software and encounter a bug, it’s possible that the problem has already been fixed in a more recent version.

If a bug is not fixed in the latest RiskScape software, please report the problem. Refer to Reporting bugs for more details.

Exploring the CLI yourself

Try exploring the RiskScape CLI yourself, using the --help option. See if you can do the following:

  • List the built-in types available.

  • Display detailed information for the ‘default’ model template.

  • List the built-in maths functions available.

As you get more familiar with the command prompt, you may find it helpful to run other OS commands too, for example to check output files. Here are some common shell commands.