How can you do the equivalent of piping stdout to 'export'?

For background, I have a non-shell script that generates environment variables like so:

REDIS_URL='redis connection string'

I would like to take that output and execute it, something like: generate-env | xargs export

Unfortunately, export isn't a binary, and neither is eval. I would prefer not to have to write my output to a file and run it with source. Is this even possible?


You can use eval:

$ set -a
$ eval "$(command_that_generate_output)"
$ set +a
$ sh -c 'printf "%s\n" "$DATABASE_URL"'
  • He has a "non-shell script" generating the data. Could be a C program or anything. – Kusalananda Jun 23 '16 at 5:53
  • Doesn't matter. command_that_generate_output generates output that looks like shell commands. eval takes that output and actually treats it like shell commands. The -a option causes all those variables to be exported. Very elegant. – Edward Falk Jun 24 '16 at 2:21
  • Ahh, looking at the edit history, I see you were commenting on the first version of the answer, which was actually significantly different. – Edward Falk Jun 24 '16 at 2:23
$ export $( generate_env )

This would create exported variables using the data generated by generate_env.


$ cat myenv

$ export $( cat myenv )

$ echo $PIZZA

$ echo $B
  • This answer changed my thinking so that I could approach the problem correctly. The goal should not be to "pipe output to" the export keyword, but rather to "surround and capture" the generating command's output with $( ) and feed that to export. My variation that worked for me was to say export MY_VAR=$(find | grep | xargs echo) and then $MY_VAR contains the output of that chain of commands. – DWoldrich May 25 '17 at 16:47

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