Why is my $1 variable empty after successful match in Perl?

Posted on 2014-11-13
Last Modified: 2014-11-14
This should be a no-brainer, but clearly I'm missing something obvious. Why doesn't this work? I'm just trying to get the contents of the matched portion of a string. It should be $1 right? Obviously, this is a very simple test -- my bigger application is much more complicated, so please tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Perl script:

my $var1 = "Hello";
print "original string: $var1";
if ($var1 =~ /Hello/ ) {print "<br>found";}
print "<br>matched string: $1";


original string: Hello
matched string:
Question by:datastarstar
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LVL 28

Assisted Solution

FishMonger earned 334 total points
ID: 40440959
You forgot to capture the match i.e., you forgot the parens.

if ($var1 =~ /(Hello)/ ) {print "<br>found";}

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Author Comment

ID: 40441156
Duh, that worked! Hope you don't mind a follow-up question. What I'm really trying to do is to get the full contents of a file and load it into a hash using eval. This worked fine until I turned tainting on (-T switch). Since taint doesn't like eval unless using $1, I tried to regex match the entire contents like this. But even with the ()'s like you suggested $1 seems empty (print $1 yields nothing)...

my $filecontents=<INFILE>;  # the file contains a text representation of a hash definition
close FILE;
$filecontents =~ /(.*)/ )
print $1;
my %myHash = (eval($1));
LVL 84

Expert Comment

ID: 40441172
Is the entire file just one line?
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LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 40441303
Ouch.  Given that small amount of info, it appears to me that you are using an awkward if not ugly approach to storing and retrieving your hash.  The Storable module or one of the config modules would be a better method.

Unless your file only has one line, you'll need to adjust how you're reading it into the scalar, which as written only reads in 1 line.

Author Comment

ID: 40441570
This line might be important for you to see:

undef $/;
my $filecontents=<INFILE>;

The file is actually very large -- hundreds of lines of hash defs.  If there's a better way to create a hash from a file, I'd love to hear it.

LVL 84

Assisted Solution

ozo earned 166 total points
ID: 40441688
do "filename";
$filecontents =~ /(.*)/s
LVL 28

Accepted Solution

FishMonger earned 334 total points
ID: 40441727
I would need to see a sample of your file to see if we can parse it directly with one of the config modules without altering how it gets created.

Here's an example how you can use the Storable module to store the hash in a file for later retrieval either in the same script or some other script.


use strict;
use warnings;
use Storable qw(store retrieve freeze thaw dclone);

my %orig_hash = (
    foo => 'foo',
    bar => 'bar',
    baz => 'baz'

store(\%orig_hash, 'hash.cfg');

# you can retrieve the hash data as a regular hash or as a hash_ref
my %retrieved_hash = %{ retrieve('hash.cfg') };

foreach my $key (keys %retrieved_hash) {
    print "$retrieved_hash{$key}\n";

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If the file defines multiple hashes, then the Storable module may not best solution.  In that case, I'd go with one of the other config modules.

If the file is setup correctly, then the do "filename" as ozo suggests would be the shortest/easiest solution, but is not the approach I would personally use in a production script.

Author Comment

ID: 40443000
Thanks to you both. I'm using Ozo's fix initially but plan to adopt FishMonger's suggestion moving forward. Since FM answered the original question, I did a 2/3 - 1/3 split of the points. Hope that's fair.

Thanks again!

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