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10.6 The -x File Tests

Now you know how to open a filehandle for output, overwriting any existing file with the same name. Suppose you wanted to make sure that there wasn't a file by that name (to keep you from accidentally blowing away your spreadsheet data or that important birthday calendar). Perl uses -e $filevar to test for the existence of the file named by the scalar value in $filevar . If this file exists, the result is true; otherwise it is false. For example:

$name = "index.html";
if (-e $name) {
    print "I see you already have a file named $name\n";
} else {
    print "Perhaps you'd like to make a file called $name\n";
} 

The operand of the -e operator is really just any scalar expression that evaluates to some string, including a string literal. Here's an example that checks to see whether both index.html and index.cgi exist in the current directory:

if (-e "index.html" && -e "index.cgi") {
    print "You have both styles of index files here.\n";
}

Other operators are defined as well. For example, -r $filevar returns true if the file named in $filevar exists and is readable. Similarly, -w $filevar tests whether it is writable. Here's an example that tests a user-specified filename for both readability and writability:

print "where? ";
$filename = <STDIN>;
chomp $filename; # toss pesky newline
if (-r $filename && -w $filename) {
        # file exists, and I can read and write it
        ...
}

Many more file tests are available, some of which are not applicable to Perl for Win32. Table 10.1 lists some file tests and their meanings; for the whole list, see the perlfunc documentation.


Table 10.1: File Tests and Their Meanings

File Test

Meaning

-r

File or directory is readable

-w

File or directory is writable

-e

File or directory exists

-x

File is executable

-z

File exists and has zero size (directories are never empty)

-s

File or directory exists and has nonzero size (the value is the size in bytes)

-f

Entry is a plain file

-d

Entry is a directory

-t

isatty on the filehandle is true (that is, the filehandle is a character device)

-T

File is text

-B

File is binary

-M

Modification age in days (C lang. time_t value)

-A

Access age in days (C lang. time_t value)

-C

Inode-modification age in days (C lang. time_t value)

Most of these tests return a simple true-false condition. A few don't, so let's talk about them.

The -s operator does return true if the file is nonempty, but it's a particular kind of true. It's the length in bytes of the file, which evaluates as true for a nonzero number.

The age operators -M , -A , and -C (yes, they're uppercase) return the number of days since the file was last modified, accessed, or had its information changed.[ 8 ] This age value is fractional with a resolution of one second: 36 hours is returned as 1.5 days. If you compare the age with a whole number (say three), you'll get only the files that were changed exactly that many days ago, not one second more or less. This means that you'll probably want a range comparison rather than an exact comparison to get files that are between three and four days old.[ 9 ]

[8] The age is measured relative to the time the program started, as captured in C-library time into the $^T variable. You can get negative numbers for these ages if the queried value refers to an event that happened after the program began.

[9] Or, you might want to use the int function.

These operators can operate on filehandles as well as filenames. Giving a filehandle for the operand is all it takes. So to test whether the file opened as SOMEFILE is executable, you can use:

if (-x SOMEFILE) {
        # file open on SOMEFILE is executable
}

If you leave the filename or filehandle parameter off (that is, if you specify just -r or -s ), the default operand is the file named in the $_ variable (there it is again!). So, to test a list of filenames to see which ones are readable, it's as simple as:

foreach (@some_list_of_filenames) {
        print "$_ is readable\n" if -r; # same as -r $_
}










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