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Paul Jamieson Fenwick


PJF in this document refers to Paul Fenwick <pjf@cpan.org>, the author of the autodie pragma.



autodie is the name of the pragma. Thanks to Jured for the suggestion. This won out over the very many other names suggested on p5p (March 2008).

Perl Version

Currently autodie works in Perl 5.10. I'd like it to work in Perl 5.8, but I haven't yet wrapped my head around how to have lexical pragamata in 5.8 work as intended, although autobox is a good example. Patches welcome.

:lexical switch to Fatal

The :lexical switch is used internally, but should not be used by the end-user. This restriction is not currently enforced.

:void switch and autodie

:void retains its existing behaviour in Fatal. :void is not allowed with autodie. Even though we could trivially support it, p5p decided it would be very confusing.

Interactions between Fatal and autodie

The following conditions are considered errors (and are enforced by the code):

no Fatal
no autodie when use Fatal is in effect for the same sub

no autodie

A plain:

    no autodie;

turns off all autodie behaviour with the current lexical scope. It is not allowed if any form of Fatal is in effect.


Errors from Fatal

The current implementation makes the error messages from Fatal look really nice. However it also opens the possibility of those nice messages breaking backwards compatibility.

It's been mostly decided that Fatal will retain its existing yet rather awful looking messages, in case people are testing them with $@ =~ /..../ and looking for some really odd patterns.

If you want nice looking messages, one is encouraged to s/Fatal/autodie/;

Vanilla autodie

The vanilla form:

    use autodie;

is presently (June 2008) open for discussion. PJF's opinion is that it should be the same as:

    use autodie qw(:default);

enabling the pragma for all built-ins for which it makes sense to do so. It should be noted that this list may increase in later versions of the module. The :default list may also contain user-defined subroutines which wish to register themselves with that behaviour (although these should be rare).

Overriding system

The in-built system function does not have a prototype. It's been proposed we ignore the fact that it can't be overridden in the traditional sense, and do it anyway. This would make the exotic form of system a syntax error within the package that Fatal or autodie was used:

    system { $cmd } @list;

It can still be invoked with:

    CORE::system { $cmd } @list;

Although this form is not checked for failure.

The proposed method for determining "what is an error" for system is the same as that used by IPC::System::Simple, namely that the following are considered errors:

Failing to start (eg, command not found)
Returning a non-zero exit status
Being killed by a signal (which may result in a coredump)

PJF would like to use the existing IPC::System::Simple module (of which he is the author) to implement the handling of autodie's interaction with system, since it already does all the hard work, and works on all platforms on which it's been tested (including Win32 and Unix flavours, but not exotic systems like VMS).

IPC::System::Simple has no dependencies outside the core, but there's the question that if we want autodie to be a core candidate, do we also wish to include IPC::System::Simple?


PJF would like to make autodie a candidate for Perl 5.10.1 core, as it squashes some bad behaviour in Fatal, provides nicer error messages, and provides a well-defined lexical way of having built-ins throw excpetions. He would like to use some non-core modules in its creation, but if autodie is going to be included in the core, this will contribute towards core bloat.

PJF would like to have the option of using IPC::System::Simple and Exception::Class as part of the implementation of autodie. IPC::System::Simple has only core dependencies, but Exception::Class depends upon Devel::StackTrace and Class::Data::Inheritable.

autodie can be implemented without these modules, and already provides simple object-based exceptions with inspiration from the Exception::Class design. Implementing the proposed system changes becomes trivial using IPC::System::Simple, since its run command already works in the same way as the proposed system changes.


Package and lexical interaction

Due to the way the code operates, autodie only changes the bavhiour of subroutines within the same lexical scope provided they are in the same package. This means that the second open is not checked in the following code:

        package Foo;

        use autodie qw(open);

        open(my $fh1, '<', $some_file);     # autodying

        package Bar;

        open(my $fh2, '<', $some_file);     # not autodying