I have a function (notify_dba) that with two string args, a header and a body. (correction) Works well from shell prompt, but not in cron Err, doesn't work in either shell or cron (but should...?):

 53 notify_dba "${FRIENDLY_SERVER_NAME}: New ORA errors in AlertLog" echo ${
 54 "Please check full log in ${ALERT_LOG_LOCATION}.
 55 =====================================================
 57 =====================================================
 58 "}

Getting the error:

Wed Jan 16 06:00:01 PST 2019
/u01/app/oracle/admin/chk_alertlog.sh: line 53: ${
"Please check full log in ${ALERT_LOG_LOCATION}.
"}: bad substitution
  • 1
    Ok, I was wondering how could it possibly work in a shell... But you just made your edit. The unquoted ${ triggers parameter substitution, which gives you the bad substitution error. Why the curly braces surrounding your block? They seem just wrong there. – fra-san Jan 16 at 19:43
  • lol, the shell hit a condition and this was the first time this block of code hit... I'll try without the curly braces - the thought was that being a multi-line string argument that I might have to encapsulate with squirrelies .. – Dennis Jorgenson Jan 16 at 20:05
  • Seems to have done the trick. Thanks a bunch! – Dennis Jorgenson Jan 16 at 20:48
  • Glad to hear that. Even if I'm late, I'm posting an answer with some examples on handling multi-line and non-fixed text in scripts. – fra-san Jan 16 at 21:32
  • Pleased to see you're already sorted. In general, please don't post code with line numbers. It adds work in cutting and pasting the example code. – roaima Jan 18 at 8:39

As pointed out in a comment to your question, the error you see is due to the unquoted ${, which triggers parameter expansion (see "Parameter Expansion" in section "EXPANSION" of man bash).

That said, you can of course pass around a multi-line text block. You have just to quote it properly:

If it is static, single quotes are ok:

$ mlblock='line 1
> line 2'
$ printf '%s\n' "$mlblock"
line 1
line 2

If you want it to be built at execution time, you have to use double quotes, which preserve the special meaning of $, ` and \, allowing, among other things, parameter expansion and command substitution:

$ text="Sample    text"
$ mlblock="$text
> date: $(date)
> end"
$ printf '%s\n' "$mlblock"
Sample    text
date: Wed Jan 16 22:18:33 CET 2019

Note that expansions appearing anywhere in a string enclosed in double quotes are themselves quoted. Thus, their spacing is preserved (e.g. Sample text).

The most readable way to pass a complex string to a function is probably to use a variable:

$ function notify_dba () {
    printf '%s\n' "$1"    # Print header
    printf '%s\n' "$2"    # Print body
$ notify_dba 'Header' "$mlblock" 
Sample    text
date: Wed Jan 16 22:21:14 CET 2019

Note that the second argument has to appear in double quotes because: 1) if unquoted, it would be expanded by the shell and, when resulting in more than one word, be translated into more than one arguments to the function; 2) if surrounded by single quotes, it would be interpreted literally as the string $mlblock.

Alternatively you can, of course, build the argument string as you call your function:

$ notify_dba 'Header' "Multi
> line body
> date: $(date)
> end"
line body
date: Wed Jan 16 22:29:13 CET 2019

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