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Question about for loops

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 PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 4:22 pm   

Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 3:52 pm
Posts: 1
Hello all I'm new here. I searched the web but couldn't find an answer to the following. Consider this very simple for loop.
for param in $1 $2; do
   echo "The parameters you gave are: "$param

Now if I run this script with two parameters it works perfectly. What I don't understand is when I run the script with only one parameter it still works. It will only execute the for loop once. Call me crazy but I thought for sure it would error out because $2 is unsigned. What is going on here? Is bash smart enough to drop $2 from the list because it doesn't exist? Or is this bad coding practice? I wan't my script to work on many different computers so I don't want any anomalous behavior.

Sorry if this is a silly question or if I am missing something obvious. I am new to bash and linux in general. Thx for the replies in advance!

 PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 6:31 pm   

Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:03 am
Posts: 643
Hi crazy,

add an -x to your shebang, and see how your loop works

bash doesn't drop $2, $2 is just considered by its value: '' (i.e. none)

if you want to treat all the parameters passed to your script, you could even omit the in $list part.

you could also do:
while [ -n "$1" ]
do echo "arg$((++n)) = $1"

good, bad coding practice? the real questions are:
- does it do the job?
- if it does, how could you optimize it?

 PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:56 am   
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:12 am
Posts: 265
Location: London - UK
bash interprets the line by putting in the variable values first so;

for param in $1 $2

where $1=one and $2 is blank the line looks like;

for param in one

this also demonstrates why quoting variables is important, consider where $1="one two" and $2="three four" the line would be interpreted as;

for param in one two three four

which would actually loop four times. Using quotes;

for param in "$1" "$2"

where $1 and $2 are as in the previous example, gets interpreted to

for param in "one two" "three four"

and would only be looped twice, with param="one two" and then "three four"

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