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PERLOPENTUT(1pm)       Perl Programmers Reference Guide       PERLOPENTUT(1pm)


       perlopentut - simple recipes for opening files and pipes in Perl


       Whenever you do I/O on a file in Perl, you do so through what in Perl
       is called a filehandle.  A filehandle is an internal name for an
       external file.  It is the job of the "open" function to make the
       association between the internal name and the external name, and it is
       the job of the "close" function to break that association.

       For your convenience, Perl sets up a few special filehandles that are
       already open when you run.  These include "STDIN", "STDOUT", "STDERR",
       and "ARGV".  Since those are pre-opened, you can use them right away
       without having to go to the trouble of opening them yourself:

           print STDERR "This is a debugging message.\n";

           print STDOUT "Please enter something: ";
           $response = <STDIN> // die "how come no input?";
           print STDOUT "Thank you!\n";

           while (<ARGV>) { ... }

       As you see from those examples, "STDOUT" and "STDERR" are output
       handles, and "STDIN" and "ARGV" are input handles.  They are in all
       capital letters because they are reserved to Perl, much like the @ARGV
       array and the %ENV hash are.  Their external associations were set up
       by your shell.

       You will need to open every other filehandle on your own. Although
       there are many variants, the most common way to call Perl's open()
       function is with three arguments and one return value:

       "    OK = open(HANDLE, MODE, PATHNAME)"


       OK  will be some defined value if the open succeeds, but "undef" if it

           should be an undefined scalar variable to be filled in by the
           "open" function if it succeeds;

           is the access mode and the encoding format to open the file with;

           is the external name of the file you want opened.

       Most of the complexity of the "open" function lies in the many possible
       values that the MODE parameter can take on.

       One last thing before we show you how to open files: opening files does
       not (usually) automatically lock them in Perl.  See perlfaq5 for how to

Opening Text Files

   Opening Text Files for Reading
       If you want to read from a text file, first open it in read-only mode
       like this:

           my $filename = "/some/path/to/a/textfile/goes/here";
           my $encoding = ":encoding(UTF-8)";
           my $handle   = undef;     # this will be filled in on success

           open($handle, "< $encoding", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename for reading: $!";

       As with the shell, in Perl the "<" is used to open the file in read-
       only mode.  If it succeeds, Perl allocates a brand new filehandle for
       you and fills in your previously undefined $handle argument with a
       reference to that handle.

       Now you may use functions like "readline", "read", "getc", and
       "sysread" on that handle.  Probably the most common input function is
       the one that looks like an operator:

           $line = readline($handle);
           $line = <$handle>;          # same thing

       Because the "readline" function returns "undef" at end of file or upon
       error, you will sometimes see it used this way:

           $line = <$handle>;
           if (defined $line) {
               # do something with $line
           else {
               # $line is not valid, so skip it

       You can also just quickly "die" on an undefined value this way:

           $line = <$handle> // die "no input found";

       However, if hitting EOF is an expected and normal event, you do not
       want to exit simply because you have run out of input.  Instead, you
       probably just want to exit an input loop.  You can then test to see if
       an actual error has caused the loop to terminate, and act accordingly:

           while (<$handle>) {
               # do something with data in $_
           if ($!) {
               die "unexpected error while reading from $filename: $!";

       A Note on Encodings: Having to specify the text encoding every time
       might seem a bit of a bother.  To set up a default encoding for "open"
       so that you don't have to supply it each time, you can use the "open"

           use open qw< :encoding(UTF-8) >;

       Once you've done that, you can safely omit the encoding part of the
       open mode:

           open($handle, "<", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename for reading: $!";

       But never use the bare "<" without having set up a default encoding
       first.  Otherwise, Perl cannot know which of the many, many, many
       possible flavors of text file you have, and Perl will have no idea how
       to correctly map the data in your file into actual characters it can
       work with.  Other common encoding formats including "ASCII",
       "ISO-8859-1", "ISO-8859-15", "Windows-1252", "MacRoman", and even
       "UTF-16LE".  See perlunitut for more about encodings.

   Opening Text Files for Writing
       When you want to write to a file, you first have to decide what to do
       about any existing contents of that file.  You have two basic choices
       here: to preserve or to clobber.

       If you want to preserve any existing contents, then you want to open
       the file in append mode.  As in the shell, in Perl you use ">>" to open
       an existing file in append mode.  ">>" creates the file if it does not
       already exist.

           my $handle   = undef;
           my $filename = "/some/path/to/a/textfile/goes/here";
           my $encoding = ":encoding(UTF-8)";

           open($handle, ">> $encoding", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename for appending: $!";

       Now you can write to that filehandle using any of "print", "printf",
       "say", "write", or "syswrite".

       As noted above, if the file does not already exist, then the append-
       mode open will create it for you.  But if the file does already exist,
       its contents are safe from harm because you will be adding your new
       text past the end of the old text.

       On the other hand, sometimes you want to clobber whatever might already
       be there.  To empty out a file before you start writing to it, you can
       open it in write-only mode:

           my $handle   = undef;
           my $filename = "/some/path/to/a/textfile/goes/here";
           my $encoding = ":encoding(UTF-8)";

           open($handle, "> $encoding", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename in write-open mode: $!";

       Here again Perl works just like the shell in that the ">" clobbers an
       existing file.

       As with the append mode, when you open a file in write-only mode, you
       can now write to that filehandle using any of "print", "printf", "say",
       "write", or "syswrite".

       What about read-write mode?  You should probably pretend it doesn't
       exist, because opening text files in read-write mode is unlikely to do
       what you would like.  See perlfaq5 for details.

Opening Binary Files

       If the file to be opened contains binary data instead of text
       characters, then the "MODE" argument to "open" is a little different.
       Instead of specifying the encoding, you tell Perl that your data are in
       raw bytes.

           my $filename = "/some/path/to/a/binary/file/goes/here";
           my $encoding = ":raw :bytes"
           my $handle   = undef;     # this will be filled in on success

       And then open as before, choosing "<", ">>", or ">" as needed:

           open($handle, "< $encoding", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename for reading: $!";

           open($handle, ">> $encoding", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename for appending: $!";

           open($handle, "> $encoding", $filename)
               || die "$0: can't open $filename in write-open mode: $!";

       Alternately, you can change to binary mode on an existing handle this

           binmode($handle)    || die "cannot binmode handle";

       This is especially handy for the handles that Perl has already opened
       for you.

           binmode(STDIN)      || die "cannot binmode STDIN";
           binmode(STDOUT)     || die "cannot binmode STDOUT";

       You can also pass "binmode" an explicit encoding to change it on the
       fly.  This isn't exactly "binary" mode, but we still use "binmode" to
       do it:

         binmode(STDIN,  ":encoding(MacRoman)") || die "cannot binmode STDIN";
         binmode(STDOUT, ":encoding(UTF-8)")    || die "cannot binmode STDOUT";

       Once you have your binary file properly opened in the right mode, you
       can use all the same Perl I/O functions as you used on text files.
       However, you may wish to use the fixed-size "read" instead of the
       variable-sized "readline" for your input.

       Here's an example of how to copy a binary file:

           my $BUFSIZ   = 64 * (2 ** 10);
           my $name_in  = "/some/input/file";
           my $name_out = "/some/output/flie";

           my($in_fh, $out_fh, $buffer);

           open($in_fh,  "<", $name_in)
               || die "$0: cannot open $name_in for reading: $!";
           open($out_fh, ">", $name_out)
               || die "$0: cannot open $name_out for writing: $!";

           for my $fh ($in_fh, $out_fh)  {
               binmode($fh)               || die "binmode failed";

           while (read($in_fh, $buffer, $BUFSIZ)) {
               unless (print $out_fh $buffer) {
                   die "couldn't write to $name_out: $!";

           close($in_fh)       || die "couldn't close $name_in: $!";
           close($out_fh)      || die "couldn't close $name_out: $!";

Opening Pipes

       Perl also lets you open a filehandle into an external program or shell
       command rather than into a file. You can do this in order to pass data
       from your Perl program to an external command for further processing,
       or to receive data from another program for your own Perl program to

       Filehandles into commands are also known as pipes, since they work on
       similar inter-process communication principles as Unix pipelines. Such
       a filehandle has an active program instead of a static file on its
       external end, but in every other sense it works just like a more
       typical file-based filehandle, with all the techniques discussed
       earlier in this article just as applicable.

       As such, you open a pipe using the same "open" call that you use for
       opening files, setting the second ("MODE") argument to special
       characters that indicate either an input or an output pipe. Use "-|"
       for a filehandle that will let your Perl program read data from an
       external program, and "|-" for a filehandle that will send data to that
       program instead.

   Opening a pipe for reading
       Let's say you'd like your Perl program to process data stored in a
       nearby directory called "unsorted", which contains a number of
       textfiles.  You'd also like your program to sort all the contents from
       these files into a single, alphabetically sorted list of unique lines
       before it starts processing them.

       You could do this through opening an ordinary filehandle into each of
       those files, gradually building up an in-memory array of all the file
       contents you load this way, and finally sorting and filtering that
       array when you've run out of files to load. Or, you could offload all
       that merging and sorting into your operating system's own "sort"
       command by opening a pipe directly into its output, and get to work
       that much faster.

       Here's how that might look:

           open(my $sort_fh, '-|', 'sort -u unsorted/*.txt')
               or die "Couldn't open a pipe into sort: $!";

           # And right away, we can start reading sorted lines:
           while (my $line = <$sort_fh>) {
               # ... Do something interesting with each $line here ...

       The second argument to "open", "-|", makes it a read-pipe into a
       separate program, rather than an ordinary filehandle into a file.

       Note that the third argument to "open" is a string containing the
       program name ("sort") plus all its arguments: in this case, "-u" to
       specify unqiue sort, and then a fileglob specifying the files to sort.
       The resulting filehandle $sort_fh works just like a read-only ("<")
       filehandle, and your program can subsequently read data from it as if
       it were opened onto an ordinary, single file.

   Opening a pipe for writing
       Continuing the previous example, let's say that your program has
       completed its processing, and the results sit in an array called
       @processed. You want to print these lines to a file called
       "numbered.txt" with a neatly formatted column of line-numbers.

       Certainly you could write your own code to do this X or, once again,
       you could kick that work over to another program. In this case, "cat",
       running with its own "-n" option to activate line numbering, should do
       the trick:

           open(my $cat_fh, '|-', 'cat -n > numbered.txt')
               or die "Couldn't open a pipe into cat: $!";

           for my $line (@processed) {
               print $cat_fh $line;

       Here, we use a second "open" argument of "|-", signifying that the
       filehandle assigned to $cat_fh should be a write-pipe. We can then use
       it just as we would a write-only ordinary filehandle, including the
       basic function of "print"-ing data to it.

       Note that the third argument, specifying the command that we wish to
       pipe to, sets up "cat" to redirect its output via that ">" symbol into
       the file "numbered.txt". This can start to look a little tricky,
       because that same symbol would have meant something entirely different
       had it showed it in the second argument to "open"!  But here in the
       third argument, it's simply part of the shell command that Perl will
       open the pipe into, and Perl itself doesn't invest any special meaning
       to it.

   Expressing the command as a list
       For opening pipes, Perl offers the option to call "open" with a list
       comprising the desired command and all its own arguments as separate
       elements, rather than combining them into a single string as in the
       examples above. For instance, we could have phrased the "open" call in
       the first example like this:

           open(my $sort_fh, '-|', 'sort', '-u', glob('unsorted/*.txt'))
               or die "Couldn't open a pipe into sort: $!";

       When you call "open" this way, Perl invokes the given command directly,
       bypassing the shell. As such, the shell won't try to interpret any
       special characters within the command's argument list, which might
       overwise have unwanted effects. This can make for safer, less error-
       prone "open" calls, useful in cases such as passing in variables as
       arguments, or even just referring to filenames with spaces in them.

       However, when you do want to pass a meaningful metacharacter to the
       shell, such with the "*" inside that final "unsorted/*.txt" argument
       here, you can't use this alternate syntax. In this case, we have worked
       around it via Perl's handy "glob" built-in function, which evaluates
       its argument into a list of filenames X and we can safely pass that
       resulting list right into "open", as shown above.

       Note also that representing piped-command arguments in list form like
       this doesn't work on every platform. It will work on any Unix-based OS
       that provides a real "fork" function (e.g. macOS or Linux), as well as
       on Windows when running Perl 5.22 or later.


       The full documentation for "open" provides a thorough reference to this
       function, beyond the best-practice basics covered here.


       Copyright 2013 Tom Christiansen; now maintained by Perl5 Porters

       This documentation is free; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
       under the same terms as Perl itself.

perl v5.34.0                      2020-10-04                  PERLOPENTUT(1pm)

perl 5.34.0 - Generated Sat Feb 26 19:04:52 CST 2022
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