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I want to programmatically determine who has signed a GPG clear sign file. Running gpg --verify will tell me this, but it does so in a human-readable format. Is it possible to get this result in a machine-readable format?

I am not looking for methods to parse the human readable format, as it may change in future GPG versions. I need a robust solution.

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What exactly do you feel is the difference between human readable and machine readable? Honestly in either case a parser has to be written. Seems sort of trivial to parse the data returned by that command. – Ramhound May 19 '14 at 18:29
@Ramhound: The difference is that human-readable outputs vary depending on program version, system language, date format, locale (character set)... The parser would therefore need to be several times more complex. – grawity May 19 '14 at 18:32
@grawity - Alright. My statement was to see if I could get provided clarification so the question is clear. I could generate a parser without a problem, everything you list, would remain the same for anything I wrote. – Ramhound May 19 '14 at 18:38
For example, the keybase-client code at first tried to parse the human-readable format, but ended up having to account for timezones (the output contains local time); different amounts of information between versions ("skip arbitrarily many lines"); user's settings (long vs short vs 0xlong vs 0xshort key IDs)... The new code is about the same size, but is easier to understand, obtains more information, and it's more-or-less promised that the output format will remain the same. – grawity May 19 '14 at 18:38
In other words, it's a choice between writing robust code, and "not a bug, it works on MY machine". – grawity May 19 '14 at 18:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

For this, GnuPG has the machine-readable --status-fd format:

^ gpg --status-fd=1 --verify test.asc
gpg: Signature made Sat 01 Feb 2014 19:37:53 EET using RSA key ID C1B52632
[GNUPG:] SIG_ID LI0kgmtHFCacIrSKM9uxpc3B2jI 2014-02-01 1391276273
[GNUPG:] GOODSIG D24F6CB2C1B52632 Mantas Mikulėnas <>
gpg: Good signature from "Mantas Mikulėnas <>"
gpg:                 aka "Mantas Mikulėnas <>"
[GNUPG:] VALIDSIG 2357E10CEF4F7ED27E233AD5D24F6CB2C1B52632 2014-02-01 1391276273                        0 4 0 1 2 00 2357E10CEF4F7ED27E233AD5D24F6CB2C1B52632

The output format is documented in doc/DETAILS. (The messages are intermixed with human-readable ones because I pointed gpg to fd #1, aka stdout. A program could easily use two separate fd's for this purpose, e.g. using pipe().)

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Thanks! I was playing around with --with-colons the whole time, which didn't work. – jornane May 19 '14 at 18:50

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