constant


SYNOPSIS
           use constant PI    => 4 * atan2(1, 1);
           use constant DEBUG => 0;

           print "Pi equals ", PI, "...\n" if DEBUG;

           use constant {
               SEC   => 0,
               MIN   => 1,
               HOUR  => 2,
               MDAY  => 3,
               MON   => 4,
               YEAR  => 5,
               WDAY  => 6,
               YDAY  => 7,
               ISDST => 8,
           };

           use constant WEEKDAYS => qw(
               Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
           );

           print "Today is ", (WEEKDAYS)[ (localtime)[WDAY] ], ".\n";

DESCRIPTION
       This pragma allows you to declare constants at compile-time.

       When you declare a constant such as "PI" using the method shown above,
       each machine your script runs upon can have as many digits of accuracy
       as it can use. Also, your program will be easier to read, more likely
       to be maintained (and maintained correctly), and far less likely to
       send a space probe to the wrong planet because nobody noticed the one
       equation in which you wrote 3.14195.

       When a constant is used in an expression, Perl replaces it with its
       value at compile time, and may then optimize the expression further.
       In particular, any code in an "if (CONSTANT)" block will be optimized
       away if the constant is false.

NOTES
       As with all "use" directives, defining a constant happens at compile
       time. Thus, it's probably not correct to put a constant declaration
       inside of a conditional statement (like "if ($foo) { use constant ...
       }").

       Constants defined using this module cannot be interpolated into strings
       like variables.  However, concatenation works just fine:

           print "Pi equals PI...\n";        # WRONG: does not expand "PI"
           print "Pi equals ".PI."...\n";    # right

       Even though a reference may be declared as a constant, the reference
       may point to data which may be changed, as this code shows.
       in "Some::Package::CONSTANT".  Constants may be exported by modules,
       and may also be called as either class or instance methods, that is, as
       "Some::Package->CONSTANT" or as "$obj->CONSTANT" where $obj is an
       instance of "Some::Package".  Subclasses may define their own constants
       to override those in their base class.

       The use of all caps for constant names is merely a convention, although
       it is recommended in order to make constants stand out and to help
       avoid collisions with other barewords, keywords, and subroutine names.
       Constant names must begin with a letter or underscore. Names beginning
       with a double underscore are reserved. Some poor choices for names will
       generate warnings, if warnings are enabled at compile time.

   List constants
       Constants may be lists of more (or less) than one value.  A constant
       with no values evaluates to "undef" in scalar context.  Note that
       constants with more than one value do not return their last value in
       scalar context as one might expect.  They currently return the number
       of values, but this may change in the future.  Do not use constants
       with multiple values in scalar context.

       NOTE: This implies that the expression defining the value of a constant
       is evaluated in list context.  This may produce surprises:

           use constant TIMESTAMP => localtime;                # WRONG!
           use constant TIMESTAMP => scalar localtime;         # right

       The first line above defines "TIMESTAMP" as a 9-element list, as
       returned by "localtime()" in list context.  To set it to the string
       returned by "localtime()" in scalar context, an explicit "scalar"
       keyword is required.

       List constants are lists, not arrays.  To index or slice them, they
       must be placed in parentheses.

           my @workdays = WEEKDAYS[1 .. 5];            # WRONG!
           my @workdays = (WEEKDAYS)[1 .. 5];          # right

   Defining multiple constants at once
       Instead of writing multiple "use constant" statements, you may define
       multiple constants in a single statement by giving, instead of the
       constant name, a reference to a hash where the keys are the names of
       the constants to be defined.  Obviously, all constants defined using
       this method must have a single value.

           use constant {
               FOO => "A single value",
               BAR => "This", "won't", "work!",        # Error!
           };

       This is a fundamental limitation of the way hashes are constructed in
       Perl.  The error messages produced when this happens will often be
       quite cryptic -- in the worst case there may be none at all, and you'll
       only later find that something is broken.
       Magical values and references can be made into constants at compile
       time, allowing for way cool stuff like this.  (These error numbers
       aren't totally portable, alas.)

           use constant E2BIG => ($! = 7);
           print   E2BIG, "\n";        # something like "Arg list too long"
           print 0+E2BIG, "\n";        # "7"

       You can't produce a tied constant by giving a tied scalar as the value.
       References to tied variables, however, can be used as constants without
       any problems.

TECHNICAL NOTES
       In the current implementation, scalar constants are actually inlinable
       subroutines. As of version 5.004 of Perl, the appropriate scalar
       constant is inserted directly in place of some subroutine calls,
       thereby saving the overhead of a subroutine call. See "Constant
       Functions" in perlsub for details about how and when this happens.

       In the rare case in which you need to discover at run time whether a
       particular constant has been declared via this module, you may use this
       function to examine the hash %constant::declared. If the given constant
       name does not include a package name, the current package is used.

           sub declared ($) {
               use constant 1.01;              # don't omit this!
               my $name = shift;
               $name =~ s/^::/main::/;
               my $pkg = caller;
               my $full_name = $name =~ /::/ ? $name : "${pkg}::$name";
               $constant::declared{$full_name};
           }

CAVEATS
       In the current version of Perl, list constants are not inlined and some
       symbols may be redefined without generating a warning.

       It is not possible to have a subroutine or a keyword with the same name
       as a constant in the same package. This is probably a Good Thing.

       A constant with a name in the list "STDIN STDOUT STDERR ARGV ARGVOUT
       ENV INC SIG" is not allowed anywhere but in package "main::", for
       technical reasons.

       Unlike constants in some languages, these cannot be overridden on the
       command line or via environment variables.

       You can get into trouble if you use constants in a context which
       automatically quotes barewords (as is true for any subroutine call).
       For example, you can't say $hash{CONSTANT} because "CONSTANT" will be
       interpreted as a string.  Use $hash{CONSTANT()} or $hash{+CONSTANT} to
       prevent the bareword quoting mechanism from kicking in.  Similarly,
       since the "=>" operator quotes a bareword immediately to its left, you
       have to say "CONSTANT() => 'value'" (or simply use a comma in place of
       Hash::Util - A selection of general-utility hash subroutines (mostly to
       lock/unlock keys and values)

BUGS
       Please report any bugs or feature requests via the perlbug(1) utility.

AUTHORS
       Tom Phoenix, <rootbeer@redcat.com>, with help from many other folks.

       Multiple constant declarations at once added by Casey West,
       <casey@geeknest.com>.

       Documentation mostly rewritten by Ilmari Karonen, <perl@itz.pp.sci.fi>.

       This program is maintained by the Perl 5 Porters.  The CPAN
       distribution is maintained by Sebastien Aperghis-Tramoni
       <sebastien@aperghis.net>.

COPYRIGHT & LICENSE
       Copyright (C) 1997, 1999 Tom Phoenix

       This module is free software; you can redistribute it or modify it
       under the same terms as Perl itself.



perl v5.14.2                      2011-09-26                   constant(3perl)
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