We have cgi application written in bash scripts. I am trying to understand how the code snippet below works. Basically its a dropdown menu and the choices is governed by _getDocType logic. How does the function take the value for "imgCodeStr"? All of this code is under one cgi file written in bash.

HTML generating function

<select id="docType" name="doctype" style="width:100%">

where _getDocType function definition is

        IFS="#" docCodeArr=($imgCodeStr) <-- Please explain this specifically

        for (( i=0; i<${#docCodeArr[*]}; i++ ))
                echo "<option value=\"${docCodeArr[$i]}\">${docCodeArr[$i]}"
                echo "</option>"
  • Note that there's a bug: tmpIfs=IFS and IFS=tmpIfs should be tmpIfs=$IFS and IFS=$tmpIfs. This would bite you if the rest of the script relied on the value of IFS. – Gilles Mar 27 '17 at 23:31

Here's a simpler example:

IFS=\# arr=($var)
echo "${arr[@]}"

The construct arr=(...) builds an array. Since IFS is set to #, the value of var is split into words at # instead of spaces, so

IFS=\# arr=($var)

is equivalent to

arr=(a b c)

Thus the array arr is formed of elements a, b, and c.

For the same reason, docCodeArr is an array, made of the value of imgCodeStr split at #. That's about all there is to it.

Beware that if the value of imgCodeStr contains wildcard characters (characters among \[?*), the shell will expand the wildcard pattern to matching file names. To avoid this, put set -f before that line to disable wildcard expansion. If you need to reenable wildcard expansion, use set +f.

  • thanks for the clear explanation. I have a follow up question. In the for loop section, the second argument is a limit where i is lesser than doccodearr array. Can you explain a bit how the length of this array was derived? – dimas Mar 27 '17 at 15:19
  • @dimas ${#docCodeArr[*]} is the length of the array. You can read all about bash arrays in man bash. – Satō Katsura Mar 27 '17 at 15:22

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