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How do I create a switch or case statement?

by faq_monk (Initiate)
on Oct 08, 1999 at 00:27 UTC ( #700=perlfaq nodetype: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Current Perl documentation can be found at

Here is our local, out-dated (pre-5.6) version:

This is explained in more depth in the the perlsyn manpage. Briefly, there's no official case statement, because of the variety of tests possible in Perl (numeric comparison, string comparison, glob comparison, regexp matching, overloaded comparisons, ...). Larry couldn't decide how best to do this, so he left it out, even though it's been on the wish list since perl1.

The general answer is to write a construct like this:

    for ($variable_to_test) {
        if    (/pat1/)  { }     # do something
        elsif (/pat2/)  { }     # do something else
        elsif (/pat3/)  { }     # do something else
        else            { }     # default

Here's a simple example of a switch based on pattern matching, this time lined up in a way to make it look more like a switch statement. We'll do a multi-way conditional based on the type of reference stored in $whatchamacallit:

    SWITCH: for (ref $whatchamacallit) {

        /^$/            && die "not a reference";

        /SCALAR/        && do {
                                last SWITCH;

        /ARRAY/         && do {
                                last SWITCH;

        /HASH/          && do {
                                last SWITCH;

        /CODE/          && do {
                                warn "can't print function ref";
                                last SWITCH;

        # DEFAULT

        warn "User defined type skipped";


See perlsyn/"Basic BLOCKs and Switch Statements" for many other examples in this style.

Sometimes you should change the positions of the constant and the variable. For example, let's say you wanted to test which of many answers you were given, but in a case-insensitive way that also allows abbreviations. You can use the following technique if the strings all start with different characters, or if you want to arrange the matches so that one takes precedence over another, as "SEND" has precedence over "STOP" here:

    chomp($answer = <>);
    if    ("SEND"  =~ /^\Q$answer/i) { print "Action is send\n"  }
    elsif ("STOP"  =~ /^\Q$answer/i) { print "Action is stop\n"  }
    elsif ("ABORT" =~ /^\Q$answer/i) { print "Action is abort\n" }
    elsif ("LIST"  =~ /^\Q$answer/i) { print "Action is list\n"  }
    elsif ("EDIT"  =~ /^\Q$answer/i) { print "Action is edit\n"  }

A totally different approach is to create a hash of function references.

    my %commands = (
        "happy" => \&joy,
        "sad",  => \&sullen,
        "done"  => sub { die "See ya!" },
        "mad"   => \&angry,

    print "How are you? ";
    chomp($string = <STDIN>);
    if ($commands{$string}) {
    } else {
        print "No such command: $string\n";

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