Provided by: libwant-perl_0.29-1build4_amd64 bug


       Want - A generalisation of "wantarray"


         use Want;
         sub foo :lvalue {
             if    (want(qw'LVALUE ASSIGN')) {
               print "We have been assigned ", want('ASSIGN');
             elsif (want('LIST')) {
               rreturn (1, 2, 3);
             elsif (want('BOOL')) {
               rreturn 0;
             elsif (want(qw'SCALAR !REF')) {
               rreturn 23;
             elsif (want('HASH')) {
               rreturn { foo => 17, bar => 23 };
             return;  # You have to put this at the end to keep the compiler happy


       This module generalises the mechanism of the wantarray function, allowing a function to
       determine in some detail how its return value is going to be immediately used.

   Top-level contexts:
       The three kinds of top-level context are well known:

           The return value is not being used in any way. It could be an entire statement like
           "foo();", or the last component of a compound statement which is itself in void
           context, such as "$test || foo();"n. Be warned that the last statement of a subroutine
           will be in whatever context the subroutine was called in, because the result is
           implicitly returned.

           The return value is being treated as a scalar value of some sort:

             my $x = foo();
             $y += foo();
             print "123" x foo();
             print scalar foo();
             warn foo()->{23};

           The return value is treated as a list of values:

             my @x = foo();
             my ($x) = foo();
             () = foo();           # even though the results are discarded
             print foo();
             bar(foo());           # unless the bar subroutine has a prototype
             print @hash{foo()};   # (hash slice)

   Lvalue subroutines:
       The introduction of lvalue subroutines in Perl 5.6 has created a new type of contextual
       information, which is independent of those listed above. When an lvalue subroutine is
       called, it can either be called in the ordinary way (so that its result is treated as an
       ordinary value, an rvalue); or else it can be called so that its result is considered
       updatable, an lvalue.

       These rather arcane terms (lvalue and rvalue) are easier to remember if you know why they
       are so called. If you consider a simple assignment statement "left = right", then the
       left-hand side is an lvalue and the right-hand side is an rvalue.

       So (for lvalue subroutines only) there are two new types of context:

           The caller is definitely not trying to assign to the result:

             my $x = foo();

           If the sub is declared without the ":lvalue" attribute, then it will always be in
           RVALUE context.

           If you need to return values from an lvalue subroutine in RVALUE context, you should
           use the "rreturn" function rather than an ordinary "return".  Otherwise you'll
           probably get a compile-time error in perl 5.6.1 and later.

           Either the caller is directly assigning to the result of the sub call:

             foo() = $x;
             foo() = (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8);

           or the caller is making a reference to the result, which might be assigned to later:

             my $ref = \(foo());   # Could now have: $$ref = 99;

             # Note that this example imposes LIST context on the sub call.
             # So we're taking a reference to the first element to be
             # returned _in list context_.
             # If we want to call the function in scalar context, we can
             # do it like this:
             my $ref = \(scalar foo());

           or else the result of the function call is being used as part of the argument list for
           another function call:

             bar(foo());   # Will *always* call foo in lvalue context,
                           # (provided that foo is an C<:lvalue> sub)
                           # regardless of what bar actually does.

           The reason for this last case is that bar might be a sub which modifies its arguments.
           They're rare in contemporary Perl code, but perfectly possible:

             sub bar {
               $_[0] = 23;

           (This is really a throwback to Perl 4, which didn't support explicit references.)

   Assignment context:
       The commonest use of lvalue subroutines is with the assignment statement:

         size() = 12;
         (list()) = (1..10);

       A useful motto to remember when thinking about assignment statements is context comes from
       the left. Consider code like this:

         my ($x, $y, $z);
         sub list () :lvalue { ($x, $y, $z) }
         list = (1, 2, 3);
         print "\$x = $x; \$y = $y; \$z = $z\n";

       This prints "$x = ; $y = ; $z = 3", which may not be what you were expecting.  The reason
       is that the assignment is in scalar context, so the comma operator is in scalar context
       too, and discards all values but the last. You can fix it by writing "(list) = (1,2,3);"

       If your lvalue subroutine is used on the left of an assignment statement, it's in ASSIGN
       context.  If ASSIGN is the only argument to "want()", then it returns a reference to an
       array of the value(s) of the right-hand side.

       In this case, you should return with the "lnoreturn" function, rather than an ordinary

       This makes it very easy to write lvalue subroutines which do clever things:

         use Want;
         use strict;
         sub backstr :lvalue {
           if (want(qw'LVALUE ASSIGN')) {
             my ($a) = want('ASSIGN');
             $_[0] = reverse $a;
           elsif (want('RVALUE')) {
             rreturn scalar reverse $_[0];
           else {
             carp("Not in ASSIGN context");

         print "foo -> ", backstr("foo"), "\n";        # foo -> oof
         backstr(my $robin) = "nibor";
         print "\$robin is now $robin\n";              # $robin is now robin

       Notice that you need to put a (meaningless) return statement at the end of the function,
       otherwise you will get the error Can't modify non-lvalue subroutine call in lvalue
       subroutine return.

       The only way to write that "backstr" function without using Want is to return a tied
       variable which is tied to a custom class.

   Reference context:
       Sometimes in scalar context the caller is expecting a reference of some sort to be

           print foo()->();     # CODE reference expected
           print foo()->{bar};  # HASH reference expected
           print foo()->[23];   # ARRAY reference expected
           print ${foo()};      # SCALAR reference expected
           print foo()->bar();  # OBJECT reference expected

           my $format = *{foo()}{FORMAT} # GLOB reference expected

       You can check this using conditionals like "if (want('CODE'))".  There is also a function
       "wantref()" which returns one of the strings "CODE", "HASH", "ARRAY", "GLOB", "SCALAR" or
       "OBJECT"; or the empty string if a reference is not expected.

       Because "want('SCALAR')" is already used to select ordinary scalar context, you have to
       use "want('REFSCALAR')" to find out if a SCALAR reference is expected. Or you could use
       "want('REF') eq 'SCALAR'" of course.

       Be warned that "want('ARRAY')" is a very different thing from "wantarray()".

   Item count
       Sometimes in list context the caller is expecting a particular number of items to be

           my ($x, $y) = foo();   # foo is expected to return two items

       If you pass a number to the "want" function, then it will return true or false according
       to whether at least that many items are wanted. So if we are in the definition of a sub
       which is being called as above, then:

           want(1) returns true
           want(2) returns true
           want(3) returns false

       Sometimes there is no limit to the number of items that might be used:

           my @x = foo();
           do_something_with( foo() );

       In this case, want(2), "want(100)", "want(1E9)" and so on will all return true; and so
       will "want('Infinity')".

       The "howmany" function can be used to find out how many items are wanted.  If the context
       is scalar, then want(1) returns true and "howmany()" returns 1. If you want to check
       whether your result is being assigned to a singleton list, you can say "if (want('LIST',
       1)) { ... }".

   Boolean context
       Sometimes the caller is only interested in the truth or falsity of a function's return

           if (everything_is_okay()) {
               # Carry on

           print (foo() ? "ok\n" : "not ok\n");

       In the following example, all subroutine calls are in BOOL context:

           my $x = ( (foo() && !bar()) xor (baz() || quux()) );

       Boolean context, like the reference contexts above, is considered to be a subcontext of


           This is the primary interface to this module, and should suffice for most purposes.
           You pass it a list of context specifiers, and the return value is true whenever all of
           the specifiers hold.

               want('LVALUE', 'SCALAR');   # Are we in scalar lvalue context?
               want('RVALUE', 3);          # Are at least three rvalues wanted?
               want('ARRAY');      # Is the return value used as an array ref?

           You can also prefix a specifier with an exclamation mark to indicate that you don't
           want it to be true

               want(2, '!3');              # Caller wants exactly two items.
               want(qw'REF !CODE !GLOB');  # Expecting a reference that
                                           #   isn't a CODE or GLOB ref.
               want(100, '!Infinity');     # Expecting at least 100 items,
                                           #   but there is a limit.

           If the REF keyword is the only parameter passed, then the type of reference will be
           returned.  This is just a synonym for the "wantref" function: it's included because
           you might find it useful if you don't want to pollute your namespace by importing
           several functions, and to conform to Damian Conway's suggestion in RFC 21.

           Finally, the keyword COUNT can be used, provided that it's the only keyword you pass.
           Mixing COUNT with other keywords is an error. This is a synonym for the "howmany"

           A full list of the permitted keyword is in the ARGUMENTS section below.

           Use this function instead of "return" from inside an lvalue subroutine when you know
           that you're in RVALUE context. If you try to use a normal "return", you'll get a
           compile-time error in Perl 5.6.1 and above unless you return an lvalue. (Note: this is
           no longer true in Perl 5.16, where an ordinary return will once again work.)

           Use this function instead of "return" from inside an lvalue subroutine when you're in
           ASSIGN context and you've used "want('ASSIGN')" to carry out the appropriate action.

           If you use "rreturn" or "lnoreturn", then you have to put a bare "return;" at the very
           end of your lvalue subroutine, in order to stop the Perl compiler from complaining.
           Think of it as akin to the "1;" that you have to put at the end of a module. (Note:
           this is no longer true in Perl 5.16.)

           Returns the expectation count, i.e. the number of items expected. If the expectation
           count is undefined, that indicates that an unlimited number of items might be used
           (e.g. the return value is being assigned to an array). In void context the expectation
           count is zero, and in scalar context it is one.

           The same as "want('COUNT')".

           Returns the type of reference which the caller is expecting, or the empty string if
           the caller isn't expecting a reference immediately.

           The same as "want('REF')".


           use Carp 'croak';
           use Want 'howmany';
           sub numbers {
               my $count = howmany();
               croak("Can't make an infinite list") if !defined($count);
               return (1..$count);
           my ($one, $two, $three) = numbers();

           use Want 'want';
           sub pi () {
               if    (want('ARRAY')) {
                   return [3, 1, 4, 1, 5, 9];
               elsif (want('LIST')) {
                   return (3, 1, 4, 1, 5, 9);
               else {
                   return 3;
           print pi->[2];      # prints 4
           print ((pi)[3]);    # prints 1


       The permitted arguments to the "want" function are listed below.  The list is structured
       so that sub-contexts appear below the context that they are part of.

       ·   VOID

       ·   SCALAR

           ·   REF

               ·   REFSCALAR

               ·   CODE

               ·   HASH

               ·   ARRAY

               ·   GLOB

               ·   OBJECT

           ·   BOOL

       ·   LIST

           ·   COUNT

           ·   <number>

           ·   Infinity

       ·   LVALUE

           ·   ASSIGN

       ·   RVALUE


       The "want" and "rreturn" functions are exported by default.  The "wantref" and/or
       "howmany" functions can also be imported:

         use Want qw'want howmany';

       If you don't import these functions, you must qualify their names as (e.g.)


       This module is still under development, and the public interface may change in future
       versions. The "want" function can now be regarded as stable.

       I'd be interested to know how you're using this module.


       There are two different levels of BOOL context. Pure boolean context occurs in conditional
       expressions, and the operands of the "xor" and "!"/"not" operators.  Pure boolean context
       also propagates down through the "&&" and "||" operators.

       However, consider an expression like "my $x = foo() && "yes"". The subroutine is called in
       pseudo-boolean context - its return value isn't entirely ignored, because the undefined
       value, the empty string and the integer 0 are all false.

       At the moment "want('BOOL')" is true in either pure or pseudo boolean context. Let me know
       if this is a problem.


        * Doesn't work from inside a tie-handler.


       Robin Houston, <>

       Thanks to Damian Conway for encouragement and good suggestions, and Father Chrysostomos
       for a patch.


       ·   "wantarray" in perlfunc

       ·   Perl6 RFC 21, by Damian Conway.


       Copyright (c) 2001-2012, Robin Houston. All Rights Reserved.  This module is free
       software. It may be used, redistributed and/or modified under the same terms as Perl