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FindBin::libs - locate and a 'use lib' or export directories based on $FindBin::Bin.


This version of FindBin::libs is suitable for Perl v5.10+.

    # search up $FindBin::Bin looking for ./lib directories
    # and "use lib" them.

    use FindBin::libs;

    # same as above with explicit defaults.

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=lib use=1 noexport noprint );

    # print the lib dir's before using them.

    use FindBin::libs qw( print );

    # find and use lib "altlib" dir's

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=altlib );

    # move starting point from $FindBin::Bin to '/tmp'

    use FindBin::libs qw( Bin=/tmp base=altlib );

    # skip "use lib", export "@altlib" instead.

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=altlib export );

    # find altlib directories, use lib them and export @mylibs

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=altlib export=mylibs use );

    # "export" defaults to "nouse", these two are identical:

    use FindBin::libs qw( export nouse );
    use FindBin::libs qw( export       );

    # use and export are not exclusive:

    use FindBin::libs qw( use export            ); # do both
    use FindBin::libs qw( nouse noexport print  ); # print only
    use FindBin::libs qw( nouse noexport        ); # do nothting at all

    # print a few interesting messages about the 
    # items found.

    use FindBinlibs qw( verbose );

    # turn on a breakpoint after the args are prcoessed, before
    # any search/export/use lib is handled.

    use FindBin::libs qw( debug );

    # prefix PERL5LIB with the lib's found.

    use FindBin::libs qw( perl5lib );

    # find a subdir of the lib's looked for.
    # the first example will use both ../lib and
    # ../lib/perl5; the second ../lib/perl5/frobnicate
    # (if they exist). it can also be used with export
    # and base to locate special configuration dir's.
    # subonly with a base is useful for locating config
    # files. this finds any "./config/mypackage" dir's
    # without including any ./config dir's. the result
    # ends up in @config (see also "export=", above).

    use FindBin::libs qw( subdir=perl5 );

    use FindBin::libs qw( subdir=perl5/frobnicate );

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=config subdir=mypackage subonly export );

    # base and subonly are also useful if your 
    # project is stored in multiple git 
    # repositories. 
    # say you need libs under api_foo/lib from api_bar: a
    # base of the git repository directory with subdir of
    # lib and subonly will pull in those lib dirs.

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=api_foo subdir=lib subonly );

    # no harm in using this multiple times to use
    # or export multple layers of libs.

    use FindBin::libs qw( export                                            );
    use FindBin::libs qw( export=found base=lib                             );
    use FindBin::libs qw( export=binz  base=bin            ignore=/foo,/bar );
    use FindBin::libs qw( export=junk  base=frobnicatorium                  );
    use FindBin::libs qw( export       base=foobar                          );


General Use

This module will locate directories along the path to $FindBin::Bin and "use lib" or export an array of the directories found. The default is to locate "lib" directories and "use lib" them without printing the list.

Options controll whether the lib's found are exported into the caller's space, exported to PERL5LIB, or printed. Exporting or setting perl5lib will turn off the default of "use lib" so that:

    use FindBin::libs qw( export );
    use FindBin::libs qw( p5lib  );

are equivalent to

    use FindBin::libs qw( export nouse );
    use FindBin::libs qw( p5lib  nouse );

Combining export with use or p5lib may be useful, p5lib and use are probably not all that useful together.

Alternate directory name: 'base'

The basename searched for can be changed via 'base=name' so that

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=altlib );

will search for directories named "altlib" and "use lib" them.

Exporting a variable: 'export'

The 'export' option will push an array of the directories found and takes an optional argument of the array name, which defaults to the basename searched for:

    use FindBin::libs qw( export );

will find "lib" directories and export @lib with the list of directories found.

    use FindBin::libs qw( export=mylibs );

will find "lib" directories and export them as "@mylibs" to the caller.

If "export" only is given then the "use" option defaults to false. So:

    use FindBin::libs qw( export );
    use FindBin::libs qw( export nouse );

are equivalent. This is mainly for use when looking for data directories with the "base=" argument.

If base is used with export the default array name is the base directory value:

    use FindBin::libs qw( export base=meta );

exports @meta while

    use FindBin::libs qw( export=metadirs base=meta );

exports @metadirs.

The use and export switches are not exclusive:

    use FindBin::libs qw( use export=mylibs );

will locate "lib" directories, use lib them, and export @mylibs into the caller's package.


The "subdir" and "subonly" settings will add or exclusively use subdir's. This is useful if some of your lib's are in ../lib/perl5 along with ../lib (subdir=perl5) or all of the lib's are in ../lib/perl5 (subonly=perl5).

This can also be handy for locating subdir's used for configuring packages:

    use FindBin::libs qw( export base=config subonly=mypackage );

Will leave @config with any "mypackage" holding any "mypackage" subdir's.

Setting PERL5LIB: p5lib

For cases where the environment is more useful for setting up library paths "p5lib" can be used to preload this variable. This is mainly useful for automatically including directories outside of the parent tree of $FindBin::bin.

For example, using:

    $ export PERL5LIB="/usr/local/foo:/usr/local/bar";

    $ myprog;

or simply

    $ PERL5LIB="/usr/local/lib/foo:/usr/lib/bar" myprog;

(depending on your shell) with #! code including:

    use FindBin::libs qw( p5lib );

will not "use lib" any dir's found but will update PERL5LIB to something like:


This can make controlling the paths used simpler and avoid the use of symlinks for some testing (see examples below).

Note that "p5lib" and "nouse" are proably worth

Skipping directories

By default, lib directories under / and /usr are sliently ignored. This normally means that /lib, /usr/lib, and '/usr/local/lib' are skipped. The "ignore" parameter provides a comma-separated list of directories to ignore:

    use FindBin::libs qw( ignore=/skip/this,/and/this/also );

will replace the standard list and thus skip "/skip/this/lib" and "/and/this/also/lib". It will search "/lib" and "/usr/lib" since the argument ignore list replaces the original one.

Homegrown Library Management

An all-too-common occurrance managing perly projects is being unable to install new modules becuse "it might break things", and being unable to test them because you can't install them. The usual outcome of this is a collection of hard-coded

    use lib qw( /usr/local/projectX ... )

code at the top of each #! file that has to be updated by hand for each new project.

To get away from this you'll often see relative paths for the lib's, which require running the code from one specific place. All this does is push the hard-coding into cron, shell wrappers, and begin blocks.

With FindBin::libs you need suffer no more.

Automatically finding libraries in and above the executable means you can put your modules into cvs/svn and check them out with the project, have multiple copies shared by developers, or easily move a module up the directory tree in a testbed to regression test the module with existing code. All without having to modify a single line of code.

Code-speicfic modules.

Say your sandbox is in ./sandbox and you are currently working in ./sandbox/projects/package/bin on a perl executable. You may have some number of modules that are specific -- or customized -- for this pacakge, share some modules within the project, and may want to use company-wide modules that are managed out of ./sandbox in development. All of this lives under a ./qc tree on the test boxes and under ./production on production servers.

For simplicity, say that your sandbox lives in your home direcotry, /home/jowbloe, as a directory or a symlink.

If your #! uses FindBin::libs in it then it will effectively

    use lib

if you run /home/jowbloe/sandbox/project/package/bin/foobar. This will happen the same way if you use a relative or absolute path, perl -d the thing, or if any of the lib directories are symlinks outside of your sandbox.

This means that the most specific module directories ("closest" to your executable) will be picked up first.

If you have a version of in your ./package/lib for modifications fine: you'll use it before the one in ./project or ./sandbox.

Using the "p5lib" argument can help in case where some of the code lives outside of the sandbox. To test a sandbox version of some other module:

    use FindBin::libs qw( p5lib );


    $ PERL5LIB=/other/sandbox/module foobar;
Regression Testing

Everntually, however, you'll need to regression test with other modules.

Fine: move, copy, or symlink it into ./project/lib and you can merrily run ./project/*/bin/* with it and see if there are any problems. In fact, so can the nice folks in QC.

If you want to install and test a new module just prefix it into, say, ./sandbox/lib and all the code that has FindBin::libs will simply use it first.

$FindBin::Bin is relative to where an executable is started from. This allows a symlink to change the location of directories used by FindBin::libs. Full regression testing of an executable can be accomplished with a symlink:

        ./lib -> /homegrown/dir/lib


            ./bin/foobar -> ../../pre-last-change/bin/foobar

Running foobar symlinked into the post-change directory will test it with whatever collection of modules is in the post-change directory. A large regression test on some collection of changed modules can be performed with a few symlinks into a sandbox area.

Managing Configuration and Meta-data Files

The "base" option alters FindBin::libs standard base directory. This allows for a heirarchical set of metadata directories:




    use FindBin::libs qw( base=meta export );

    sub read_meta
        my $base = shift;

        for my $dir ( @meta )
            # open the first one and return

        # caller gets back empty list if nothing was read.

using "prove" with local modules.

Modules that are not intended for CPAN will not usually have a Makefile.PL or Build setup. This makes it harder to check the code via "make test". Instead of hacking a one-time Makefile, FindBin::libs can be used to locate modules in a "lib" directory adjacent to the "t: directory. The setup for this module would look like:



since the *.t files use FindBin::libs they can locate the most recent version of code without it having to be copied into a ./blib directory (usually via make) before being processed. If the module did not have a Makefile this would allow:

    prove t/*.t;

to check the code.



FindBin::libs was developed to avoid pitfalls with the items listed below. As of FindBin::libs-1.20, this is also mutli-platform, where other techniques may be limited to *NIX or at least less portable.


PERL5LIB can be used to accomplish the same directory lookups as FindBin::libs. The problem is PERL5LIB often contains absolte paths and does not automatically change depending on where tests are run. This can leave you modifying a file, changing directory to see if it works with some other code and testing an unmodified version of the code via PERL5LIB. FindBin::libs avoids this by using $FindBin::bin to reference where the code is running from.

The same is true of trying to use almost any environmental solution, with Perl's built in mechanism or one based on $ENV{ PWD } or qx( pwd ).

Aside: Combining an existing PERL5LIB for out-of-tree lookups with the "p5lib" option works well for most development situations.

use lib qw( ../../../../Lib );

This works, but how many dots do you need to get all the working lib's into a module or #! code? Class distrubuted among several levels subdirectories may have qw( ../../../lib ) vs. qw( ../../../../lib ) or various combinations of them. Validating these by hand (let alone correcting them) leaves me crosseyed after only a short session.

Anchor on a fixed lib directory.

Given a standard directory, it is possible to use something like:

        my ( $libdir ) = $0 =~ m{ ^( .+? )/SOMEDIR/ }x;

        eval "use lib qw( $libdir )";

This looks for a standard location (e.g., /path/to/Mylib) in the executable path (or cwd) and uses that.

The main problem here is that if the anchor ever changes (e.g., when moving code between projects or relocating directories now that SVN supports it) the path often has to change in multiple files. The regex also may have to support multiple platforms, or be broken into more complicated File::Spec code that probably looks pretty much like what

    use FindBin::libs qw( base=Mylib )

does anyway.

FindBin::libs-1.2+ uses File::Spec

In order to accmodate a wider range of filesystems, the code has been re-written to use File::Spec for all directory and volume manglement.

There is one thing that File::Spec does not handle, hoever, which is fully reolving absolute paths. That still has to be handled via abs_path, when it works.

The issue is that File::Spec::rel2abs and Cwd::abs_path work differently: abs_path only returns true for existing directories and resolves symlinks; rel2abs simply prepends cwd() to any non-absolute paths.

The difference for FinBin::libs is that including redundant directories can lead to unexpected results in what gets included; looking up the contents of heavily-symlinked paths is slow (and has some -- admittedly unlikely -- failures at runtime). So, abs_path() is the preferred way to find where the lib's really live after they are found looking up the tree. Using abs_path() also avoids problems where the same directory is included twice in a sandbox' tree via symlinks.

Due to previous complaints that abs_path did not work properly on all systems, the current version of FindBin::libs uses File::Spec to break apart and re-assemble directories, with abs_path used optinally. If "abs_path cwd" works then abs_path is used on the directory paths handed by File::Spec::catpath(); otherwise the paths are used as-is. This may leave users on systms with non-working abs_path() having extra copies of external library directories in @INC.

Another issue is that I've heard reports of some systems failing the '-d' test on symlinks, where '-e' would have succeded.

See Also


This is used for portability in dis- and re-assembling directory paths based on $FindBin::Bin.

Older code. is installed if $^V indicates that the running perl is prior to v5.10.


  • In order to avoid including junk, FindBin::libs uses '-d' to test the items before including them on the library list. This works fine so long as abs_path() is used to disambiguate any symlinks first. If abs_path() is turned off then legitimate directories may be left off in whatever local conditions might cause a valid symlink to fail the '-d' test."

  • File::Spec 3.16 and prior have a bug in VMS of not returning an absolute paths in splitdir for dir's without a leading '.'. Fix for this is to unshift '', @dirpath if $dirpath[0]. While not a bug, this is obviously a somewhat kludgy workaround and should be removed (with an added test for a working version) once the File::Spec is fixed.

  • The hack for prior-to-5.12 versions of perl is messy, but is the only I've found that works for the moment on *NIX, VMS, and MSW. I am not sure whether any of these systems are normally configured to share perl modules between versions. If the moduels are not shared on multiple platforms then I can make this work by managing the installation rather than checking this every time at startup.

    For the moment, at least, this seems to work.


Steven Lembark, Workhorse Computing <>


Copyright (C) 2003-2012, Steven Lembark, Workhorse Computing. This code is released under the same terms as Perl-5.10 or any later version of Perl.