I am not able to take care of special characters.

I have the following perl script.

  my @core= split ( /  / , $mapping_array[$i]) ;
  @core[0] =~ tr/ //ds ;   ## Deleting blank spaces
  @core[1] =~ tr/ //ds ;     
  system("perl -pi -e 's/@core[0]/@core[1]/' $testproc ");  
  print "@core[0] \n";
  print "@core[1] \n";

The issue is that my @core[0] variable could be a simple string like abc or a more complex one like TEST[1]. My script works as expected for abc, replacing it with the value of @core[1], but it failes if my @core[0] is TEST[1].

Using ? instead of / in the substitution operator doesn't help. How can I do this correctly?

  • 1
    Array elements use the singular sigil: $core[0]. – choroba Oct 21 '15 at 10:05

Sounds like you're looking for quotemeta. As explained in perldoc -f quotemeta:

quotemeta EXPR
        Returns the value of EXPR with all the ASCII non-"word" characters
        backslashed. (That is, all ASCII characters not matching
        "/[A-Za-z_0-9]/" will be preceded by a backslash in the returned
        string, regardless of any locale settings.) This is the internal
        function implementing the "\Q" escape in double-quoted strings.

So, your script would be (note that array elements should be specified as $foo[N], not @foo[N]):

    my @core= split ( /  / , $mapping_array[$i]) ;
    $core[0] =~ tr/ //ds ;   ## // Deleting blank spaces
    $core[1] =~ tr/ //ds ;   # / fix SO highlighting
    system("perl -pi -e 's/$k/$l/' $testproc "); 
    print "$core[0] \n$core[1] \n";
  • I was really looking for 'quotemeta'. Yes, array elements should be specified as $foo[N] and not @foo[N], I could not really figure out the difference between the two.It will be helpful if you can point out the differences. – Ramneek Singh Kakkar Oct 21 '15 at 10:34
  • Thanks for including the actual quotemeta definition from the documentation. +1 for that. – Wildcard Oct 21 '15 at 10:36
  • 1
    @user3687023 $foo[n] is the nth element of array @foo, and @foo[n] is an array slice, it's a new array with one element. Try running perl -MO=Deparse,-q -le '@F=("foo"); print "@F[0]"'. You will see that @F[0] is actually join($", @F[0]). This sort of thing is why it's always a good idea to use warnings;. The code above produces this warning: Scalar value @F[0] better written as $F[0] at -e line 1.. – terdon Oct 21 '15 at 10:41
  • In perl the "sigil" ($, @, % etc.) denotes what data type you expect out of the thing. For a single scalar therefore, it's always $ - $value, $array[$index] or $hash{$key}. Perl knows what it is, because of the type of bracket you're using (if any), not by the sigil. It's perfectly valid to write @array[1..3] (because you're after multiple scalars). Or @hash{("key1", "key2", "key3")} to get a list of values matching the designated keys. – Sobrique Oct 21 '15 at 11:44

Running Perl from Perl can usually be avoided.

for my $both (@mapping) {
    my ($regex, $replace) = split /  /, $both;
    tr/ //ds for $regex, $replace;                                                                   # // Fix SO highlighting bug.

    open my $IN,  '<', $testproc or die $!;
    open my $OUT, '>', "$testproc.new" or die $!;
    while (<$IN>) {
        print {$OUT} $_;
    close $OUT or die $!;
    rename $testproc, "$testproc.old" or die $!;
    rename "$testproc.new", $testproc or die $!;

The \Q corresponds to quotemeta which prevents interpretation of special characters in the $regex variable.


First off - turn on strict and warnings at the top of your program:

use strict;
use warnings;

This will help you identify errors like @core[0] isn't actually right.

However the second problem is - you're sending meta characters to your regex - [] means something special in regex.

So what you really need is the quotemeta function.

print quotemeta '@core[0]';

Which turns it into:



print quotemeta $core[0]; 

Which in the example you give will print:


Of course, you also probably don't need to system() call perl from within perl. That's just inefficient and messy.


Use \Q in the regexp to remove special meaning from chars:

system("perl -pi -e 's/\\Q$core[0]/$core[1]/' $testproc ");

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