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       DB_File - Perl5 access to Berkeley DB version 1.x


        use DB_File;

        [$X =] tie %hash,  'DB_File', [$filename, $flags, $mode, $DB_HASH] ;
        [$X =] tie %hash,  'DB_File', $filename, $flags, $mode, $DB_BTREE ;
        [$X =] tie @array, 'DB_File', $filename, $flags, $mode, $DB_RECNO ;

        $status = $X->del($key [, $flags]) ;
        $status = $X->put($key, $value [, $flags]) ;
        $status = $X->get($key, $value [, $flags]) ;
        $status = $X->seq($key, $value, $flags) ;
        $status = $X->sync([$flags]) ;
        $status = $X->fd ;

        # BTREE only
        $count = $X->get_dup($key) ;
        @list  = $X->get_dup($key) ;
        %list  = $X->get_dup($key, 1) ;
        $status = $X->find_dup($key, $value) ;
        $status = $X->del_dup($key, $value) ;

        # RECNO only
        $a = $X->length;
        $a = $X->pop ;
        $a = $X->shift;
        @r = $X->splice(offset, length, elements);

        # DBM Filters
        $old_filter = $db->filter_store_key  ( sub { ... } ) ;
        $old_filter = $db->filter_store_value( sub { ... } ) ;
        $old_filter = $db->filter_fetch_key  ( sub { ... } ) ;
        $old_filter = $db->filter_fetch_value( sub { ... } ) ;

        untie %hash ;
        untie @array ;


       DB_File is a module which allows Perl programs to make use of the facilities provided by
       Berkeley DB version 1.x (if you have a newer version of DB, see "Using DB_File with
       Berkeley DB version 2 or greater").  It is assumed that you have a copy of the Berkeley DB
       manual pages at hand when reading this documentation. The interface defined here mirrors
       the Berkeley DB interface closely.

       Berkeley DB is a C library which provides a consistent interface to a number of database
       formats.  DB_File provides an interface to all three of the database types currently
       supported by Berkeley DB.

       The file types are:

            This database type allows arbitrary key/value pairs to be stored in data files. This
            is equivalent to the functionality provided by other hashing packages like DBM, NDBM,
            ODBM, GDBM, and SDBM. Remember though, the files created using DB_HASH are not
            compatible with any of the other packages mentioned.

            A default hashing algorithm, which will be adequate for most applications, is built
            into Berkeley DB. If you do need to use your own hashing algorithm it is possible to
            write your own in Perl and have DB_File use it instead.

            The btree format allows arbitrary key/value pairs to be stored in a sorted, balanced
            binary tree.

            As with the DB_HASH format, it is possible to provide a user defined Perl routine to
            perform the comparison of keys. By default, though, the keys are stored in lexical

            DB_RECNO allows both fixed-length and variable-length flat text files to be
            manipulated using the same key/value pair interface as in DB_HASH and DB_BTREE.  In
            this case the key will consist of a record (line) number.

   Using DB_File with Berkeley DB version 2 or greater
       Although DB_File is intended to be used with Berkeley DB version 1, it can also be used
       with version 2, 3 or 4. In this case the interface is limited to the functionality
       provided by Berkeley DB 1.x. Anywhere the version 2 or greater interface differs, DB_File
       arranges for it to work like version 1. This feature allows DB_File scripts that were
       built with version 1 to be migrated to version 2 or greater without any changes.

       If you want to make use of the new features available in Berkeley DB 2.x or greater, use
       the Perl module BerkeleyDB instead.

       Note: The database file format has changed multiple times in Berkeley DB version 2, 3 and
       4. If you cannot recreate your databases, you must dump any existing databases with either
       the "db_dump" or the "db_dump185" utility that comes with Berkeley DB.  Once you have
       rebuilt DB_File to use Berkeley DB version 2 or greater, your databases can be recreated
       using "db_load". Refer to the Berkeley DB documentation for further details.

       Please read "COPYRIGHT" before using version 2.x or greater of Berkeley DB with DB_File.

   Interface to Berkeley DB
       DB_File allows access to Berkeley DB files using the tie() mechanism in Perl 5 (for full
       details, see "tie()" in perlfunc). This facility allows DB_File to access Berkeley DB
       files using either an associative array (for DB_HASH & DB_BTREE file types) or an ordinary
       array (for the DB_RECNO file type).

       In addition to the tie() interface, it is also possible to access most of the functions
       provided in the Berkeley DB API directly.  See "THE API INTERFACE".

   Opening a Berkeley DB Database File
       Berkeley DB uses the function dbopen() to open or create a database.  Here is the C
       prototype for dbopen():

             dbopen (const char * file, int flags, int mode,
                     DBTYPE type, const void * openinfo)

       The parameter "type" is an enumeration which specifies which of the 3 interface methods
       (DB_HASH, DB_BTREE or DB_RECNO) is to be used.  Depending on which of these is actually
       chosen, the final parameter, openinfo points to a data structure which allows tailoring of
       the specific interface method.

       This interface is handled slightly differently in DB_File. Here is an equivalent call
       using DB_File:

               tie %array, 'DB_File', $filename, $flags, $mode, $DB_HASH ;

       The "filename", "flags" and "mode" parameters are the direct equivalent of their dbopen()
       counterparts. The final parameter $DB_HASH performs the function of both the "type" and
       "openinfo" parameters in dbopen().

       In the example above $DB_HASH is actually a pre-defined reference to a hash object.
       DB_File has three of these pre-defined references.  Apart from $DB_HASH, there is also
       $DB_BTREE and $DB_RECNO.

       The keys allowed in each of these pre-defined references is limited to the names used in
       the equivalent C structure. So, for example, the $DB_HASH reference will only allow keys
       called "bsize", "cachesize", "ffactor", "hash", "lorder" and "nelem".

       To change one of these elements, just assign to it like this:

               $DB_HASH->{'cachesize'} = 10000 ;

       The three predefined variables $DB_HASH, $DB_BTREE and $DB_RECNO are usually adequate for
       most applications.  If you do need to create extra instances of these objects,
       constructors are available for each file type.

       Here are examples of the constructors and the valid options available for DB_HASH,
       DB_BTREE and DB_RECNO respectively.

            $a = new DB_File::HASHINFO ;
            $a->{'bsize'} ;
            $a->{'cachesize'} ;
            $a->{'hash'} ;
            $a->{'lorder'} ;
            $a->{'nelem'} ;

            $b = new DB_File::BTREEINFO ;
            $b->{'flags'} ;
            $b->{'cachesize'} ;
            $b->{'maxkeypage'} ;
            $b->{'minkeypage'} ;
            $b->{'psize'} ;
            $b->{'compare'} ;
            $b->{'prefix'} ;
            $b->{'lorder'} ;

            $c = new DB_File::RECNOINFO ;
            $c->{'bval'} ;
            $c->{'cachesize'} ;
            $c->{'psize'} ;
            $c->{'flags'} ;
            $c->{'lorder'} ;
            $c->{'reclen'} ;
            $c->{'bfname'} ;

       The values stored in the hashes above are mostly the direct equivalent of their C
       counterpart. Like their C counterparts, all are set to a default values - that means you
       don't have to set all of the values when you only want to change one. Here is an example:

            $a = new DB_File::HASHINFO ;
            $a->{'cachesize'} =  12345 ;
            tie %y, 'DB_File', "filename", $flags, 0777, $a ;

       A few of the options need extra discussion here. When used, the C equivalent of the keys
       "hash", "compare" and "prefix" store pointers to C functions. In DB_File these keys are
       used to store references to Perl subs. Below are templates for each of the subs:

           sub hash
               my ($data) = @_ ;
               # return the hash value for $data
               return $hash ;

           sub compare
               my ($key, $key2) = @_ ;
               # return  0 if $key1 eq $key2
               #        -1 if $key1 lt $key2
               #         1 if $key1 gt $key2
               return (-1 , 0 or 1) ;

           sub prefix
               my ($key, $key2) = @_ ;
               # return number of bytes of $key2 which are
               # necessary to determine that it is greater than $key1
               return $bytes ;

       See "Changing the BTREE sort order" for an example of using the "compare" template.

       If you are using the DB_RECNO interface and you intend making use of "bval", you should
       check out "The 'bval' Option".

   Default Parameters
       It is possible to omit some or all of the final 4 parameters in the call to "tie" and let
       them take default values. As DB_HASH is the most common file format used, the call:

           tie %A, "DB_File", "filename" ;

       is equivalent to:

           tie %A, "DB_File", "filename", O_CREAT|O_RDWR, 0666, $DB_HASH ;

       It is also possible to omit the filename parameter as well, so the call:

           tie %A, "DB_File" ;

       is equivalent to:

           tie %A, "DB_File", undef, O_CREAT|O_RDWR, 0666, $DB_HASH ;

       See "In Memory Databases" for a discussion on the use of "undef" in place of a filename.

   In Memory Databases
       Berkeley DB allows the creation of in-memory databases by using NULL (that is, a "(char
       *)0" in C) in place of the filename.  DB_File uses "undef" instead of NULL to provide this


       The DB_HASH file format is probably the most commonly used of the three file formats that
       DB_File supports. It is also very straightforward to use.

   A Simple Example
       This example shows how to create a database, add key/value pairs to the database, delete
       keys/value pairs and finally how to enumerate the contents of the database.

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;
           our (%h, $k, $v) ;

           unlink "fruit" ;
           tie %h, "DB_File", "fruit", O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_HASH
               or die "Cannot open file 'fruit': $!\n";

           # Add a few key/value pairs to the file
           $h{"apple"} = "red" ;
           $h{"orange"} = "orange" ;
           $h{"banana"} = "yellow" ;
           $h{"tomato"} = "red" ;

           # Check for existence of a key
           print "Banana Exists\n\n" if $h{"banana"} ;

           # Delete a key/value pair.
           delete $h{"apple"} ;

           # print the contents of the file
           while (($k, $v) = each %h)
             { print "$k -> $v\n" }

           untie %h ;

       here is the output:

           Banana Exists

           orange -> orange
           tomato -> red
           banana -> yellow

       Note that the like ordinary associative arrays, the order of the keys retrieved is in an
       apparently random order.


       The DB_BTREE format is useful when you want to store data in a given order. By default the
       keys will be stored in lexical order, but as you will see from the example shown in the
       next section, it is very easy to define your own sorting function.

   Changing the BTREE sort order
       This script shows how to override the default sorting algorithm that BTREE uses. Instead
       of using the normal lexical ordering, a case insensitive compare function will be used.

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my %h ;

           sub Compare
               my ($key1, $key2) = @_ ;
               "\L$key1" cmp "\L$key2" ;

           # specify the Perl sub that will do the comparison
           $DB_BTREE->{'compare'} = \&Compare ;

           unlink "tree" ;
           tie %h, "DB_File", "tree", O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open file 'tree': $!\n" ;

           # Add a key/value pair to the file
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Larry' ;
           $h{'Smith'} = 'John' ;
           $h{'mouse'} = 'mickey' ;
           $h{'duck'}  = 'donald' ;

           # Delete
           delete $h{"duck"} ;

           # Cycle through the keys printing them in order.
           # Note it is not necessary to sort the keys as
           # the btree will have kept them in order automatically.
           foreach (keys %h)
             { print "$_\n" }

           untie %h ;

       Here is the output from the code above.


       There are a few point to bear in mind if you want to change the ordering in a BTREE

       1.   The new compare function must be specified when you create the database.

       2.   You cannot change the ordering once the database has been created. Thus you must use
            the same compare function every time you access the database.

       3.   Duplicate keys are entirely defined by the comparison function.  In the case-
            insensitive example above, the keys: 'KEY' and 'key' would be considered duplicates,
            and assigning to the second one would overwrite the first. If duplicates are allowed
            for (with the R_DUP flag discussed below), only a single copy of duplicate keys is
            stored in the database --- so (again with example above) assigning three values to
            the keys: 'KEY', 'Key', and 'key' would leave just the first key: 'KEY' in the
            database with three values. For some situations this results in information loss, so
            care should be taken to provide fully qualified comparison functions when necessary.
            For example, the above comparison routine could be modified to additionally compare
            case-sensitively if two keys are equal in the case insensitive comparison:

                sub compare {
                    my($key1, $key2) = @_;
                    lc $key1 cmp lc $key2 ||
                    $key1 cmp $key2;

            And now you will only have duplicates when the keys themselves are truly the same.
            (note: in versions of the db library prior to about November 1996, such duplicate
            keys were retained so it was possible to recover the original keys in sets of keys
            that compared as equal).

   Handling Duplicate Keys
       The BTREE file type optionally allows a single key to be associated with an arbitrary
       number of values. This option is enabled by setting the flags element of $DB_BTREE to
       R_DUP when creating the database.

       There are some difficulties in using the tied hash interface if you want to manipulate a
       BTREE database with duplicate keys. Consider this code:

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my ($filename, %h) ;

           $filename = "tree" ;
           unlink $filename ;

           # Enable duplicate records
           $DB_BTREE->{'flags'} = R_DUP ;

           tie %h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n";

           # Add some key/value pairs to the file
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Larry' ;
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Brick' ; # Note the duplicate key
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Brick' ; # Note the duplicate key and value
           $h{'Smith'} = 'John' ;
           $h{'mouse'} = 'mickey' ;

           # iterate through the associative array
           # and print each key/value pair.
           foreach (sort keys %h)
             { print "$_  -> $h{$_}\n" }

           untie %h ;

       Here is the output:

           Smith   -> John
           Wall    -> Larry
           Wall    -> Larry
           Wall    -> Larry
           mouse   -> mickey

       As you can see 3 records have been successfully created with key "Wall" - the only thing
       is, when they are retrieved from the database they seem to have the same value, namely
       "Larry". The problem is caused by the way that the associative array interface works.
       Basically, when the associative array interface is used to fetch the value associated with
       a given key, it will only ever retrieve the first value.

       Although it may not be immediately obvious from the code above, the associative array
       interface can be used to write values with duplicate keys, but it cannot be used to read
       them back from the database.

       The way to get around this problem is to use the Berkeley DB API method called "seq".
       This method allows sequential access to key/value pairs. See "THE API INTERFACE" for
       details of both the "seq" method and the API in general.

       Here is the script above rewritten using the "seq" API method.

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my ($filename, $x, %h, $status, $key, $value) ;

           $filename = "tree" ;
           unlink $filename ;

           # Enable duplicate records
           $DB_BTREE->{'flags'} = R_DUP ;

           $x = tie %h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n";

           # Add some key/value pairs to the file
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Larry' ;
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Brick' ; # Note the duplicate key
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Brick' ; # Note the duplicate key and value
           $h{'Smith'} = 'John' ;
           $h{'mouse'} = 'mickey' ;

           # iterate through the btree using seq
           # and print each key/value pair.
           $key = $value = 0 ;
           for ($status = $x->seq($key, $value, R_FIRST) ;
                $status == 0 ;
                $status = $x->seq($key, $value, R_NEXT) )
             {  print "$key -> $value\n" }

           undef $x ;
           untie %h ;

       that prints:

           Smith   -> John
           Wall    -> Brick
           Wall    -> Brick
           Wall    -> Larry
           mouse   -> mickey

       This time we have got all the key/value pairs, including the multiple values associated
       with the key "Wall".

       To make life easier when dealing with duplicate keys, DB_File comes with a few utility

   The get_dup() Method
       The "get_dup" method assists in reading duplicate values from BTREE databases. The method
       can take the following forms:

           $count = $x->get_dup($key) ;
           @list  = $x->get_dup($key) ;
           %list  = $x->get_dup($key, 1) ;

       In a scalar context the method returns the number of values associated with the key, $key.

       In list context, it returns all the values which match $key. Note that the values will be
       returned in an apparently random order.

       In list context, if the second parameter is present and evaluates TRUE, the method returns
       an associative array. The keys of the associative array correspond to the values that
       matched in the BTREE and the values of the array are a count of the number of times that
       particular value occurred in the BTREE.

       So assuming the database created above, we can use "get_dup" like this:

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my ($filename, $x, %h) ;

           $filename = "tree" ;

           # Enable duplicate records
           $DB_BTREE->{'flags'} = R_DUP ;

           $x = tie %h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n";

           my $cnt  = $x->get_dup("Wall") ;
           print "Wall occurred $cnt times\n" ;

           my %hash = $x->get_dup("Wall", 1) ;
           print "Larry is there\n" if $hash{'Larry'} ;
           print "There are $hash{'Brick'} Brick Walls\n" ;

           my @list = sort $x->get_dup("Wall") ;
           print "Wall =>      [@list]\n" ;

           @list = $x->get_dup("Smith") ;
           print "Smith =>     [@list]\n" ;

           @list = $x->get_dup("Dog") ;
           print "Dog =>       [@list]\n" ;

       and it will print:

           Wall occurred 3 times
           Larry is there
           There are 2 Brick Walls
           Wall =>     [Brick Brick Larry]
           Smith =>    [John]
           Dog =>      []

   The find_dup() Method
           $status = $X->find_dup($key, $value) ;

       This method checks for the existence of a specific key/value pair. If the pair exists, the
       cursor is left pointing to the pair and the method returns 0. Otherwise the method returns
       a non-zero value.

       Assuming the database from the previous example:

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my ($filename, $x, %h, $found) ;

           $filename = "tree" ;

           # Enable duplicate records
           $DB_BTREE->{'flags'} = R_DUP ;

           $x = tie %h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n";

           $found = ( $x->find_dup("Wall", "Larry") == 0 ? "" : "not") ;
           print "Larry Wall is $found there\n" ;

           $found = ( $x->find_dup("Wall", "Harry") == 0 ? "" : "not") ;
           print "Harry Wall is $found there\n" ;

           undef $x ;
           untie %h ;

       prints this

           Larry Wall is  there
           Harry Wall is not there

   The del_dup() Method
           $status = $X->del_dup($key, $value) ;

       This method deletes a specific key/value pair. It returns 0 if they exist and have been
       deleted successfully.  Otherwise the method returns a non-zero value.

       Again assuming the existence of the "tree" database

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my ($filename, $x, %h, $found) ;

           $filename = "tree" ;

           # Enable duplicate records
           $DB_BTREE->{'flags'} = R_DUP ;

           $x = tie %h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n";

           $x->del_dup("Wall", "Larry") ;

           $found = ( $x->find_dup("Wall", "Larry") == 0 ? "" : "not") ;
           print "Larry Wall is $found there\n" ;

           undef $x ;
           untie %h ;

       prints this

           Larry Wall is not there

   Matching Partial Keys
       The BTREE interface has a feature which allows partial keys to be matched. This
       functionality is only available when the "seq" method is used along with the R_CURSOR

           $x->seq($key, $value, R_CURSOR) ;

       Here is the relevant quote from the dbopen man page where it defines the use of the
       R_CURSOR flag with seq:

           Note, for the DB_BTREE access method, the returned key is not
           necessarily an exact match for the specified key. The returned key
           is the smallest key greater than or equal to the specified key,
           permitting partial key matches and range searches.

       In the example script below, the "match" sub uses this feature to find and print the first
       matching key/value pair given a partial key.

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;
           use Fcntl ;

           my ($filename, $x, %h, $st, $key, $value) ;

           sub match
               my $key = shift ;
               my $value = 0;
               my $orig_key = $key ;
               $x->seq($key, $value, R_CURSOR) ;
               print "$orig_key\t-> $key\t-> $value\n" ;

           $filename = "tree" ;
           unlink $filename ;

           $x = tie %h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_BTREE
               or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n";

           # Add some key/value pairs to the file
           $h{'mouse'} = 'mickey' ;
           $h{'Wall'} = 'Larry' ;
           $h{'Walls'} = 'Brick' ;
           $h{'Smith'} = 'John' ;

           $key = $value = 0 ;
           print "IN ORDER\n" ;
           for ($st = $x->seq($key, $value, R_FIRST) ;
                $st == 0 ;
                $st = $x->seq($key, $value, R_NEXT) )

             {  print "$key    -> $value\n" }

           print "\nPARTIAL MATCH\n" ;

           match "Wa" ;
           match "A" ;
           match "a" ;

           undef $x ;
           untie %h ;

       Here is the output:

           IN ORDER
           Smith -> John
           Wall  -> Larry
           Walls -> Brick
           mouse -> mickey

           PARTIAL MATCH
           Wa -> Wall  -> Larry
           A  -> Smith -> John
           a  -> mouse -> mickey


       DB_RECNO provides an interface to flat text files. Both variable and fixed length records
       are supported.

       In order to make RECNO more compatible with Perl, the array offset for all RECNO arrays
       begins at 0 rather than 1 as in Berkeley DB.

       As with normal Perl arrays, a RECNO array can be accessed using negative indexes. The
       index -1 refers to the last element of the array, -2 the second last, and so on.
       Attempting to access an element before the start of the array will raise a fatal run-time

   The 'bval' Option
       The operation of the bval option warrants some discussion. Here is the definition of bval
       from the Berkeley DB 1.85 recno manual page:

           The delimiting byte to be used to mark  the  end  of  a
           record for variable-length records, and the pad charac-
           ter for fixed-length records.  If no  value  is  speci-
           fied,  newlines  (``\n'')  are  used to mark the end of
           variable-length records and  fixed-length  records  are
           padded with spaces.

       The second sentence is wrong. In actual fact bval will only default to "\n" when the
       openinfo parameter in dbopen is NULL. If a non-NULL openinfo parameter is used at all, the
       value that happens to be in bval will be used. That means you always have to specify bval
       when making use of any of the options in the openinfo parameter. This documentation error
       will be fixed in the next release of Berkeley DB.

       That clarifies the situation with regards Berkeley DB itself. What about DB_File? Well,
       the behavior defined in the quote above is quite useful, so DB_File conforms to it.

       That means that you can specify other options (e.g. cachesize) and still have bval default
       to "\n" for variable length records, and space for fixed length records.

       Also note that the bval option only allows you to specify a single byte as a delimiter.

   A Simple Example
       Here is a simple example that uses RECNO (if you are using a version of Perl earlier than
       5.004_57 this example won't work -- see "Extra RECNO Methods" for a workaround).

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my $filename = "text" ;
           unlink $filename ;

           my @h ;
           tie @h, "DB_File", $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_RECNO
               or die "Cannot open file 'text': $!\n" ;

           # Add a few key/value pairs to the file
           $h[0] = "orange" ;
           $h[1] = "blue" ;
           $h[2] = "yellow" ;

           push @h, "green", "black" ;

           my $elements = scalar @h ;
           print "The array contains $elements entries\n" ;

           my $last = pop @h ;
           print "popped $last\n" ;

           unshift @h, "white" ;
           my $first = shift @h ;
           print "shifted $first\n" ;

           # Check for existence of a key
           print "Element 1 Exists with value $h[1]\n" if $h[1] ;

           # use a negative index
           print "The last element is $h[-1]\n" ;
           print "The 2nd last element is $h[-2]\n" ;

           untie @h ;

       Here is the output from the script:

           The array contains 5 entries
           popped black
           shifted white
           Element 1 Exists with value blue
           The last element is green
           The 2nd last element is yellow

   Extra RECNO Methods
       If you are using a version of Perl earlier than 5.004_57, the tied array interface is
       quite limited. In the example script above "push", "pop", "shift", "unshift" or
       determining the array length will not work with a tied array.

       To make the interface more useful for older versions of Perl, a number of methods are
       supplied with DB_File to simulate the missing array operations. All these methods are
       accessed via the object returned from the tie call.

       Here are the methods:

       $X->push(list) ;
            Pushes the elements of "list" to the end of the array.

       $value = $X->pop ;
            Removes and returns the last element of the array.

            Removes and returns the first element of the array.

       $X->unshift(list) ;
            Pushes the elements of "list" to the start of the array.

            Returns the number of elements in the array.

       $X->splice(offset, length, elements);
            Returns a splice of the array.

   Another Example
       Here is a more complete example that makes use of some of the methods described above. It
       also makes use of the API interface directly (see "THE API INTERFACE").

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           my (@h, $H, $file, $i) ;
           use DB_File ;
           use Fcntl ;

           $file = "text" ;

           unlink $file ;

           $H = tie @h, "DB_File", $file, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0666, $DB_RECNO
               or die "Cannot open file $file: $!\n" ;

           # first create a text file to play with
           $h[0] = "zero" ;
           $h[1] = "one" ;
           $h[2] = "two" ;
           $h[3] = "three" ;
           $h[4] = "four" ;

           # Print the records in order.
           # The length method is needed here because evaluating a tied
           # array in a scalar context does not return the number of
           # elements in the array.

           print "\nORIGINAL\n" ;
           foreach $i (0 .. $H->length - 1) {
               print "$i: $h[$i]\n" ;

           # use the push & pop methods
           $a = $H->pop ;
           $H->push("last") ;
           print "\nThe last record was [$a]\n" ;

           # and the shift & unshift methods
           $a = $H->shift ;
           $H->unshift("first") ;
           print "The first record was [$a]\n" ;

           # Use the API to add a new record after record 2.
           $i = 2 ;
           $H->put($i, "Newbie", R_IAFTER) ;

           # and a new record before record 1.
           $i = 1 ;
           $H->put($i, "New One", R_IBEFORE) ;

           # delete record 3
           $H->del(3) ;

           # now print the records in reverse order
           print "\nREVERSE\n" ;
           for ($i = $H->length - 1 ; $i >= 0 ; -- $i)
             { print "$i: $h[$i]\n" }

           # same again, but use the API functions instead
           print "\nREVERSE again\n" ;
           my ($s, $k, $v)  = (0, 0, 0) ;
           for ($s = $H->seq($k, $v, R_LAST) ;
                    $s == 0 ;
                    $s = $H->seq($k, $v, R_PREV))
             { print "$k: $v\n" }

           undef $H ;
           untie @h ;

       and this is what it outputs:

           0: zero
           1: one
           2: two
           3: three
           4: four

           The last record was [four]
           The first record was [zero]

           5: last
           4: three
           3: Newbie
           2: one
           1: New One
           0: first

           REVERSE again
           5: last
           4: three
           3: Newbie
           2: one
           1: New One
           0: first


       1.   Rather than iterating through the array, @h like this:

                foreach $i (@h)

            it is necessary to use either this:

                foreach $i (0 .. $H->length - 1)

            or this:

                for ($a = $H->get($k, $v, R_FIRST) ;
                     $a == 0 ;
                     $a = $H->get($k, $v, R_NEXT) )

       2.   Notice that both times the "put" method was used the record index was specified using
            a variable, $i, rather than the literal value itself. This is because "put" will
            return the record number of the inserted line via that parameter.


       As well as accessing Berkeley DB using a tied hash or array, it is also possible to make
       direct use of most of the API functions defined in the Berkeley DB documentation.

       To do this you need to store a copy of the object returned from the tie.

               $db = tie %hash, "DB_File", "filename" ;

       Once you have done that, you can access the Berkeley DB API functions as DB_File methods
       directly like this:

               $db->put($key, $value, R_NOOVERWRITE) ;

       Important: If you have saved a copy of the object returned from "tie", the underlying
       database file will not be closed until both the tied variable is untied and all copies of
       the saved object are destroyed.

           use DB_File ;
           $db = tie %hash, "DB_File", "filename"
               or die "Cannot tie filename: $!" ;
           undef $db ;
           untie %hash ;

       See "The untie() Gotcha" for more details.

       All the functions defined in dbopen are available except for close() and dbopen() itself.
       The DB_File method interface to the supported functions have been implemented to mirror
       the way Berkeley DB works whenever possible. In particular note that:

       ·    The methods return a status value. All return 0 on success.  All return -1 to signify
            an error and set $! to the exact error code. The return code 1 generally (but not
            always) means that the key specified did not exist in the database.

            Other return codes are defined. See below and in the Berkeley DB documentation for
            details. The Berkeley DB documentation should be used as the definitive source.

       ·    Whenever a Berkeley DB function returns data via one of its parameters, the
            equivalent DB_File method does exactly the same.

       ·    If you are careful, it is possible to mix API calls with the tied hash/array
            interface in the same piece of code. Although only a few of the methods used to
            implement the tied interface currently make use of the cursor, you should always
            assume that the cursor has been changed any time the tied hash/array interface is
            used. As an example, this code will probably not do what you expect:

                $X = tie %x, 'DB_File', $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0777, $DB_BTREE
                    or die "Cannot tie $filename: $!" ;

                # Get the first key/value pair and set  the cursor
                $X->seq($key, $value, R_FIRST) ;

                # this line will modify the cursor
                $count = scalar keys %x ;

                # Get the second key/value pair.
                # oops, it didn't, it got the last key/value pair!
                $X->seq($key, $value, R_NEXT) ;

            The code above can be rearranged to get around the problem, like this:

                $X = tie %x, 'DB_File', $filename, O_RDWR|O_CREAT, 0777, $DB_BTREE
                    or die "Cannot tie $filename: $!" ;

                # this line will modify the cursor
                $count = scalar keys %x ;

                # Get the first key/value pair and set  the cursor
                $X->seq($key, $value, R_FIRST) ;

                # Get the second key/value pair.
                # worked this time.
                $X->seq($key, $value, R_NEXT) ;

       All the constants defined in dbopen for use in the flags parameters in the methods defined
       below are also available. Refer to the Berkeley DB documentation for the precise meaning
       of the flags values.

       Below is a list of the methods available.

       $status = $X->get($key, $value [, $flags]) ;
            Given a key ($key) this method reads the value associated with it from the database.
            The value read from the database is returned in the $value parameter.

            If the key does not exist the method returns 1.

            No flags are currently defined for this method.

       $status = $X->put($key, $value [, $flags]) ;
            Stores the key/value pair in the database.

            If you use either the R_IAFTER or R_IBEFORE flags, the $key parameter will have the
            record number of the inserted key/value pair set.


       $status = $X->del($key [, $flags]) ;
            Removes all key/value pairs with key $key from the database.

            A return code of 1 means that the requested key was not in the database.

            R_CURSOR is the only valid flag at present.

       $status = $X->fd ;
            Returns the file descriptor for the underlying database.

            See "Locking: The Trouble with fd" for an explanation for why you should not use "fd"
            to lock your database.

       $status = $X->seq($key, $value, $flags) ;
            This interface allows sequential retrieval from the database. See dbopen for full

            Both the $key and $value parameters will be set to the key/value pair read from the

            The flags parameter is mandatory. The valid flag values are R_CURSOR, R_FIRST,
            R_LAST, R_NEXT and R_PREV.

       $status = $X->sync([$flags]) ;
            Flushes any cached buffers to disk.

            R_RECNOSYNC is the only valid flag at present.


       A DBM Filter is a piece of code that is be used when you always want to make the same
       transformation to all keys and/or values in a DBM database.  An example is when you need
       to encode your data in UTF-8 before writing to the database and then decode the UTF-8 when
       reading from the database file.

       There are two ways to use a DBM Filter.

       1.   Using the low-level API defined below.

       2.   Using the DBM_Filter module.  This module hides the complexity of the API defined
            below and comes with a number of "canned" filters that cover some of the common use-

       Use of the DBM_Filter module is recommended.

   DBM Filter Low-level API
       There are four methods associated with DBM Filters. All work identically, and each is used
       to install (or uninstall) a single DBM Filter. Each expects a single parameter, namely a
       reference to a sub. The only difference between them is the place that the filter is

       To summarise:

            If a filter has been installed with this method, it will be invoked every time you
            write a key to a DBM database.

            If a filter has been installed with this method, it will be invoked every time you
            write a value to a DBM database.

            If a filter has been installed with this method, it will be invoked every time you
            read a key from a DBM database.

            If a filter has been installed with this method, it will be invoked every time you
            read a value from a DBM database.

       You can use any combination of the methods, from none, to all four.

       All filter methods return the existing filter, if present, or "undef" in not.

       To delete a filter pass "undef" to it.

   The Filter
       When each filter is called by Perl, a local copy of $_ will contain the key or value to be
       filtered. Filtering is achieved by modifying the contents of $_. The return code from the
       filter is ignored.

   An Example -- the NULL termination problem.
       Consider the following scenario. You have a DBM database that you need to share with a
       third-party C application. The C application assumes that all keys and values are NULL
       terminated. Unfortunately when Perl writes to DBM databases it doesn't use NULL
       termination, so your Perl application will have to manage NULL termination itself. When
       you write to the database you will have to use something like this:

           $hash{"$key\0"} = "$value\0" ;

       Similarly the NULL needs to be taken into account when you are considering the length of
       existing keys/values.

       It would be much better if you could ignore the NULL terminations issue in the main
       application code and have a mechanism that automatically added the terminating NULL to all
       keys and values whenever you write to the database and have them removed when you read
       from the database. As I'm sure you have already guessed, this is a problem that DBM
       Filters can fix very easily.

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;

           my %hash ;
           my $filename = "filt" ;
           unlink $filename ;

           my $db = tie %hash, 'DB_File', $filename, O_CREAT|O_RDWR, 0666, $DB_HASH
             or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n" ;

           # Install DBM Filters
           $db->filter_fetch_key  ( sub { s/\0$//    } ) ;
           $db->filter_store_key  ( sub { $_ .= "\0" } ) ;
           $db->filter_fetch_value( sub { s/\0$//    } ) ;
           $db->filter_store_value( sub { $_ .= "\0" } ) ;

           $hash{"abc"} = "def" ;
           my $a = $hash{"ABC"} ;
           # ...
           undef $db ;
           untie %hash ;

       Hopefully the contents of each of the filters should be self-explanatory. Both "fetch"
       filters remove the terminating NULL, and both "store" filters add a terminating NULL.

   Another Example -- Key is a C int.
       Here is another real-life example. By default, whenever Perl writes to a DBM database it
       always writes the key and value as strings. So when you use this:

           $hash{12345} = "something" ;

       the key 12345 will get stored in the DBM database as the 5 byte string "12345". If you
       actually want the key to be stored in the DBM database as a C int, you will have to use
       "pack" when writing, and "unpack" when reading.

       Here is a DBM Filter that does it:

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;
           my %hash ;
           my $filename = "filt" ;
           unlink $filename ;

           my $db = tie %hash, 'DB_File', $filename, O_CREAT|O_RDWR, 0666, $DB_HASH
             or die "Cannot open $filename: $!\n" ;

           $db->filter_fetch_key  ( sub { $_ = unpack("i", $_) } ) ;
           $db->filter_store_key  ( sub { $_ = pack ("i", $_) } ) ;
           $hash{123} = "def" ;
           # ...
           undef $db ;
           untie %hash ;

       This time only two filters have been used -- we only need to manipulate the contents of
       the key, so it wasn't necessary to install any value filters.


   Locking: The Trouble with fd
       Until version 1.72 of this module, the recommended technique for locking DB_File databases
       was to flock the filehandle returned from the "fd" function. Unfortunately this technique
       has been shown to be fundamentally flawed (Kudos to David Harris for tracking this down).
       Use it at your own peril!

       The locking technique went like this.

           $db = tie(%db, 'DB_File', 'foo.db', O_CREAT|O_RDWR, 0644)
               || die "dbcreat foo.db $!";
           $fd = $db->fd;
           open(DB_FH, "+<&=$fd") || die "dup $!";
           flock (DB_FH, LOCK_EX) || die "flock: $!";
           $db{"Tom"} = "Jerry" ;
           flock(DB_FH, LOCK_UN);
           undef $db;
           untie %db;

       In simple terms, this is what happens:

       1.   Use "tie" to open the database.

       2.   Lock the database with fd & flock.

       3.   Read & Write to the database.

       4.   Unlock and close the database.

       Here is the crux of the problem. A side-effect of opening the DB_File database in step 2
       is that an initial block from the database will get read from disk and cached in memory.

       To see why this is a problem, consider what can happen when two processes, say "A" and
       "B", both want to update the same DB_File database using the locking steps outlined above.
       Assume process "A" has already opened the database and has a write lock, but it hasn't
       actually updated the database yet (it has finished step 2, but not started step 3 yet).
       Now process "B" tries to open the same database - step 1 will succeed, but it will block
       on step 2 until process "A" releases the lock. The important thing to notice here is that
       at this point in time both processes will have cached identical initial blocks from the

       Now process "A" updates the database and happens to change some of the data held in the
       initial buffer. Process "A" terminates, flushing all cached data to disk and releasing the
       database lock. At this point the database on disk will correctly reflect the changes made
       by process "A".

       With the lock released, process "B" can now continue. It also updates the database and
       unfortunately it too modifies the data that was in its initial buffer. Once that data gets
       flushed to disk it will overwrite some/all of the changes process "A" made to the

       The result of this scenario is at best a database that doesn't contain what you expect. At
       worst the database will corrupt.

       The above won't happen every time competing process update the same DB_File database, but
       it does illustrate why the technique should not be used.

   Safe ways to lock a database
       Starting with version 2.x, Berkeley DB  has internal support for locking.  The companion
       module to this one, BerkeleyDB, provides an interface to this locking functionality. If
       you are serious about locking Berkeley DB databases, I strongly recommend using

       If using BerkeleyDB isn't an option, there are a number of modules available on CPAN that
       can be used to implement locking. Each one implements locking differently and has
       different goals in mind. It is therefore worth knowing the difference, so that you can
       pick the right one for your application. Here are the three locking wrappers:

            A DB_File wrapper which creates copies of the database file for read access, so that
            you have a kind of a multiversioning concurrent read system. However, updates are
            still serial. Use for databases where reads may be lengthy and consistency problems
            may occur.

            A DB_File wrapper that has the ability to lock and unlock the database while it is
            being used. Avoids the tie-before-flock problem by simply re-tie-ing the database
            when you get or drop a lock.  Because of the flexibility in dropping and re-acquiring
            the lock in the middle of a session, this can be massaged into a system that will
            work with long updates and/or reads if the application follows the hints in the POD

            An extremely lightweight DB_File wrapper that simply flocks a lockfile before tie-ing
            the database and drops the lock after the untie. Allows one to use the same lockfile
            for multiple databases to avoid deadlock problems, if desired. Use for databases
            where updates are reads are quick and simple flock locking semantics are enough.

   Sharing Databases With C Applications
       There is no technical reason why a Berkeley DB database cannot be shared by both a Perl
       and a C application.

       The vast majority of problems that are reported in this area boil down to the fact that C
       strings are NULL terminated, whilst Perl strings are not. See "DBM FILTERS" for a generic
       way to work around this problem.

       Here is a real example. Netscape 2.0 keeps a record of the locations you visit along with
       the time you last visited them in a DB_HASH database.  This is usually stored in the file
       ~/.netscape/history.db. The key field in the database is the location string and the value
       field is the time the location was last visited stored as a 4 byte binary value.

       If you haven't already guessed, the location string is stored with a terminating NULL.
       This means you need to be careful when accessing the database.

       Here is a snippet of code that is loosely based on Tom Christiansen's ggh script
       (available from your nearest CPAN archive in authors/id/TOMC/scripts/nshist.gz).

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;
           use Fcntl ;

           my ($dotdir, $HISTORY, %hist_db, $href, $binary_time, $date) ;
           $dotdir = $ENV{HOME} || $ENV{LOGNAME};

           $HISTORY = "$dotdir/.netscape/history.db";

           tie %hist_db, 'DB_File', $HISTORY
               or die "Cannot open $HISTORY: $!\n" ;;

           # Dump the complete database
           while ( ($href, $binary_time) = each %hist_db ) {

               # remove the terminating NULL
               $href =~ s/\x00$// ;

               # convert the binary time into a user friendly string
               $date = localtime unpack("V", $binary_time);
               print "$date $href\n" ;

           # check for the existence of a specific key
           # remember to add the NULL
           if ( $binary_time = $hist_db{"\x00"} ) {
               $date = localtime unpack("V", $binary_time) ;
               print "Last visited on $date\n" ;
           else {
               print "Never visited\n"

           untie %hist_db ;

   The untie() Gotcha
       If you make use of the Berkeley DB API, it is very strongly recommended that you read "The
       untie Gotcha" in perltie.

       Even if you don't currently make use of the API interface, it is still worth reading it.

       Here is an example which illustrates the problem from a DB_File perspective:

           use DB_File ;
           use Fcntl ;

           my %x ;
           my $X ;

           $X = tie %x, 'DB_File', 'tst.fil' , O_RDWR|O_TRUNC
               or die "Cannot tie first time: $!" ;

           $x{123} = 456 ;

           untie %x ;

           tie %x, 'DB_File', 'tst.fil' , O_RDWR|O_CREAT
               or die "Cannot tie second time: $!" ;

           untie %x ;

       When run, the script will produce this error message:

           Cannot tie second time: Invalid argument at bad.file line 14.

       Although the error message above refers to the second tie() statement in the script, the
       source of the problem is really with the untie() statement that precedes it.

       Having read perltie you will probably have already guessed that the error is caused by the
       extra copy of the tied object stored in $X.  If you haven't, then the problem boils down
       to the fact that the DB_File destructor, DESTROY, will not be called until all references
       to the tied object are destroyed. Both the tied variable, %x, and $X above hold a
       reference to the object. The call to untie() will destroy the first, but $X still holds a
       valid reference, so the destructor will not get called and the database file tst.fil will
       remain open. The fact that Berkeley DB then reports the attempt to open a database that is
       already open via the catch-all "Invalid argument" doesn't help.

       If you run the script with the "-w" flag the error message becomes:

           untie attempted while 1 inner references still exist at bad.file line 12.
           Cannot tie second time: Invalid argument at bad.file line 14.

       which pinpoints the real problem. Finally the script can now be modified to fix the
       original problem by destroying the API object before the untie:

           $x{123} = 456 ;

           undef $X ;
           untie %x ;

           $X = tie %x, 'DB_File', 'tst.fil' , O_RDWR|O_CREAT


   Why is there Perl source in my database?
       If you look at the contents of a database file created by DB_File, there can sometimes be
       part of a Perl script included in it.

       This happens because Berkeley DB uses dynamic memory to allocate buffers which will
       subsequently be written to the database file. Being dynamic, the memory could have been
       used for anything before DB malloced it. As Berkeley DB doesn't clear the memory once it
       has been allocated, the unused portions will contain random junk. In the case where a Perl
       script gets written to the database, the random junk will correspond to an area of dynamic
       memory that happened to be used during the compilation of the script.

       Unless you don't like the possibility of there being part of your Perl scripts embedded in
       a database file, this is nothing to worry about.

   How do I store complex data structures with DB_File?
       Although DB_File cannot do this directly, there is a module which can layer transparently
       over DB_File to accomplish this feat.

       Check out the MLDBM module, available on CPAN in the directory modules/by-module/MLDBM.

   What does "wide character in subroutine entry" mean?
       You will usually get this message if you are working with UTF-8 data and want to
       read/write it from/to a Berkeley DB database file.

       The easist way to deal with this issue is to use the pre-defined "utf8" DBM_Filter (see
       DBM_Filter) that was designed to deal with this situation.

       The example below shows what you need if both the key and value are expected to be in

           use DB_File;
           use DBM_Filter;

           my $db = tie %h, 'DB_File', '/tmp/try.db', O_CREAT|O_RDWR, 0666, $DB_BTREE;

           my $key = "\N{LATIN SMALL LETTER A WITH ACUTE}";
           my $value = "\N{LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH ACUTE}";
           $h{ $key } = $value;

   What does "Invalid Argument" mean?
       You will get this error message when one of the parameters in the "tie" call is wrong.
       Unfortunately there are quite a few parameters to get wrong, so it can be difficult to
       figure out which one it is.

       Here are a couple of possibilities:

       1.   Attempting to reopen a database without closing it.

       2.   Using the O_WRONLY flag.

   What does "Bareword 'DB_File' not allowed" mean?
       You will encounter this particular error message when you have the "strict 'subs'" pragma
       (or the full strict pragma) in your script.  Consider this script:

           use warnings ;
           use strict ;
           use DB_File ;
           my %x ;
           tie %x, DB_File, "filename" ;

       Running it produces the error in question:

           Bareword "DB_File" not allowed while "strict subs" in use

       To get around the error, place the word "DB_File" in either single or double quotes, like

           tie %x, "DB_File", "filename" ;

       Although it might seem like a real pain, it is really worth the effort of having a "use
       strict" in all your scripts.


       Articles that are either about DB_File or make use of it.

       1.   Full-Text Searching in Perl, Tim Kientzle (, Dr. Dobb's Journal,
            Issue 295, January 1999, pp 34-41


       Moved to the Changes file.


       Some older versions of Berkeley DB had problems with fixed length records using the RECNO
       file format. This problem has been fixed since version 1.85 of Berkeley DB.

       I am sure there are bugs in the code. If you do find any, or can suggest any enhancements,
       I would welcome your comments.


       DB_File comes with the standard Perl source distribution. Look in the directory
       ext/DB_File. Given the amount of time between releases of Perl the version that ships with
       Perl is quite likely to be out of date, so the most recent version can always be found on
       CPAN (see "CPAN" in perlmodlib for details), in the directory modules/by-module/DB_File.

       This version of DB_File will work with either version 1.x, 2.x or 3.x of Berkeley DB, but
       is limited to the functionality provided by version 1.

       The official web site for Berkeley DB is  All versions of
       Berkeley DB are available there.

       Alternatively, Berkeley DB version 1 is available at your nearest CPAN archive in


       Copyright (c) 1995-2016 Paul Marquess. All rights reserved. This program is free software;
       you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

       Although DB_File is covered by the Perl license, the library it makes use of, namely
       Berkeley DB, is not. Berkeley DB has its own copyright and its own license. Please take
       the time to read it.

       Here are a few words taken from the Berkeley DB FAQ (at regarding the

           Do I have to license DB to use it in Perl scripts?

           No. The Berkeley DB license requires that software that uses
           Berkeley DB be freely redistributable. In the case of Perl, that
           software is Perl, and not your scripts. Any Perl scripts that you
           write are your property, including scripts that make use of
           Berkeley DB. Neither the Perl license nor the Berkeley DB license
           place any restriction on what you may do with them.

       If you are in any doubt about the license situation, contact either the Berkeley DB
       authors or the author of DB_File. See "AUTHOR" for details.


       perl, dbopen(3), hash(3), recno(3), btree(3), perldbmfilter, DBM_Filter


       The DB_File interface was written by Paul Marquess <>.