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13.5. When an Overload Handler Is Missing (nomethod and fallback)

If you apply an unoverloaded operator to an object, Perl first tries to autogenerate a behavior from other overloaded operators using the rules described earlier. If that fails, Perl looks for an overloading behavior for nomethod and uses that if available. That handler is to operators what an AUTOLOAD subroutine is to subroutines: it's what you do when you can't think of what else to do.

If used, the nomethod key should be followed by a reference to a handler that accepts four arguments, (not three as all the other handlers expect). The first three arguments are no different than in any other handler; the fourth is a string corresponding to the operator whose handler is missing. This serves the same purpose as the $AUTOLOAD variable does in AUTOLOAD subroutines.

If Perl has to look for a nomethod handler but can't find one, an exception is raised.

If you want to prevent autogeneration from occurring, or you want a failed autogeneration attempt to result in no overloading at all, you can define the special fallback overloading key. It has three useful states:


If fallback is not set, or is explicitly set to undef, the sequence of overloading events is unaffected: handlers are sought, autogeneration is attempted, and finally the nomethod handler is invoked. If that fails, an exception is raised.


If fallback is set to a defined but false value (like 0), autogeneration is never attempted. Perl will call the nomethod handler if one exists, but raise an exception otherwise.


This is nearly the same behavior as for undef, but no exception is raised if an appropriate handler cannot be synthesized via autogeneration. Instead, Perl reverts to following the unoverloaded behavior for that operator, as though there were no use overload pragma in the class at all.

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