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s/RegEx/substitutions/: Variable interpolation and when to use /e - modifiers

by LanX (Canon)
on Dec 04, 2012 at 18:58 UTC ( #1007141=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to "ee" in Regular Expression: version issue?

Let me try to write a deeper conceptional answer, because the handling of /e irritated me for long and I need to pin down the source of this irritation myself.

The short answer

The RHS of s/LHS/RHS/ undergoes a variable interpolation (like doublequotes) if and only if there are no /e modifiers used.

modifiers substition equivalent
no e VAR =~ s/LHS/RHS/ VAR =~ m/LHS/; MATCH = "RHS"
one e VAR =~ s/LHS/RHS/e VAR =~ m/LHS/; MATCH = eval 'RHS'
two e VAR =~ s/LHS/RHS/ee VAR =~ m/LHS/; MATCH = eval eval 'RHS'
more e Don't! Only for brainfuck and obfuscation, better call function

MATCH meaning the substring from VAR matching the LHS-pattern.

For completeness nota bene ...

concept code equivalent
disabling interpolation VAR =~ s'LHS'RHS' VAR =~ m/LHS/; MATCH = 'RHS'
string interpolation $a = "$b - $c" $a = $b . ' - ' . $c
variable evaluation $a = $b $a = eval '$b'

The long answer ...


At first it's confusing that there is no difference between s/(pattern)/$1/ and s/(pattern)/$1/e


DB<1> $_='abc'; s/a(b)c/$1/; print $_ b DB<2> $_='abc'; s/a(b)c/$1/e; print $_ b


Line 1 w/o e-modifier but with interpolation:

Variables in RHS undergo an interpolation like the result in double-quotes "RHS"!

the following code is equivalent

DB<1> $_='abc'; s/a(b)c/$1/; print $_ b DB<3> $_='abc'; m/a(b)c/; $_ = "$1" ; print $_ b

Line 2: with e-modifier but w/o interpolation:

RHS is evaluated without variable interpolation╣ like in simple quotes eval 'RHS'

DB<2> $_='abc'; s/a(b)c/$1/e; print $_ b DB<4> $_='abc'; m/a(b)c/; $_= eval '$1'; print $_ b

And $_= eval '$1' just means $_= $1

I hope now double evals /ee can be better understood

Like ikegami stated correctly those  s/LHS/RHS/ee; and  s/LHS/eval RHS/e; are equivalent

Those double /ee are used if you need a matchvariables (a substring from LHS) to be interpolated within an eval, b/c variable interpolation is missing!

Any code from LHS will be treated as uninterpolated string, as in these equivalent expamples

DB<5> $_='warn 666'; s/(.*)/$1/e; print $_ warn 666 DB<6> $_='warn 666'; m/(.*)/; $_= eval '$1'; print $_ warn 666

So if I need code-evaluation from parts of LHS I need a second /e

DB<7> $_='warn 666'; s/(.*)/$1/ee; print $_ 666 at (eval 171) .... # skipped error message 1 # $_ = return code from warn DB<8> $_='warn 666'; m/(.*)/; $_= eval eval '$1'; print $_ 666 at (eval 175). ... # skipped error message 1 # $_ = return code from warn


I think this explanation could be better worded ...

It already helped me a lot to clarify whats happening and I hope it helps you too or anyone else who tries to explain it better. =)

Cheers Rolf

1) As a side note:

Variable interpolation is a powerful tool which allows some (not all) "evaluation like effects" like interpolation of hash-variables.

DB<134> $hash{b}=666; DB<135> $_='abc'; s/a(b)c/$hash{$1}/; print $_ 666 DB<136> $_='abc'; m/a(b)c/; print "$hash{$1}"; 666

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