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4.6. goto

Although not for the faint of heart (nor for the pure of heart), Perl does support a goto operator. There are three forms: gotoLABEL, gotoEXPR, and goto &NAME.

The gotoLABEL form finds the statement labeled with LABEL and resumes execution there. It cant be used to jump into any construct that requires initialization, such as a subroutine or a foreach loop. It also can't be used to jump into a construct that has been optimized away (see Chapter 18, "Compiling"). It can be used to go almost anywhere else within the current block or any block in your dynamic scope (that is, a block you were called from). You can even goto out of subroutines, but it's usually better to use some other construct. The author of Perl has never felt the need to use this form of goto (in Perl, that is--C is another matter).

The gotoEXPR form is just a generalization of gotoLABEL. It expects the expression to produce a label name, whose location obviously has to be resolved dynamically by the interpreter. This allows for computed gotos per FORTRAN, but isn't necessarily recommended if you're optimizing for maintainability:

goto(("FOO", "BAR", "GLARCH")[$i]);         # hope 0 <= i < 3

@loop_label = qw/FOO BAR GLARCH/;
goto $loop_label[rand @loop_label];         # random teleport
In almost all cases like this, it's usually a far, far better idea to use the structured control flow mechanisms of next, last, or redo instead of resorting to a goto. For certain applications, a hash of references to functions or the catch-and-throw pair of eval and die for exception processing can also be prudent approaches.

The goto &NAME form is highly magical and sufficiently removed from the ordinary goto to exempt its users from the opprobrium to which goto users are customarily subjected. It substitutes a call to the named subroutine for the currently running subroutine. This behavior is used by AUTOLOAD subroutines to load another subroutine and then pretend that the other subroutine was called in the first place. After the goto, not even caller will be able to tell that this routine was called first. The autouse, AutoLoader, and SelfLoader modules all use this strategy to define functions the first time they're called, and then to jump right to them without anyone ever knowing the functions weren't there all along.



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