Any Perl victims care to explain this?

Matthew Hawkins matt at
Thu Apr 4 20:28:03 EST 2002

On Thu, 04 Apr 2002, Martijn van Oosterhout wrote:
> It's not random. If you only put integers in, you only get integers out. I
> don't understand your problem.

I'm not putting anything in.  The hash is tied to a pre-populated MySQL
db table, the particular field being looked at is of type INTEGER, and
each row has a number in it.  I think that qualifies as being an
integer, and does little to explain this particular instance of Perl's

> I think you are confused.

Think *I'm* confused?  When I print the ref() of the two values I'm
getting back (I have two hash references to two different tables), one
is returning an ARRAY (today, yesterday it was returning ARRAYREF and
the only thing I've done in-between is eat & sleep), the other is
returning a nothing.

That's right, a nothing.  ref() is blank.  It's not a SCALAR, REF,
ARRAY, HASH, CODE or GLOB as the Perl documentation states ref returns.
Yesterday, it was a SCALAR, and an ARRAYREF, depending on the number of
black taxis circling the tower of london or whatever, at the exact time
I launched the script.  Oh, the MySQL db is static - its not changes
there affecting the script as nothing is being altered in any way.

I don't think I'm the confused one.  I think that last one is funny
because its so random even the Perl interpreter doesn't know what the
hell it is! :-)  I can take a wild stab in the dark at guessing it's
scalar, since print will print it correctly (and being a good boy I've
got strict on so print bitches if I try giving it non-scalar things).
But ref() doesn't think so, the SCALAR check in the superbuttugly
conditional block is never entered, and the script dies in my catch-all
clause with "Perl sucks" :-)

The only reason I did this in Perl in the first place was because DBI
and associates, plus the integrated regexping, are hard to match in
other languages - and they're what I need to do. :(

I don't actually need any help (I'm going to redo the whole script in
something that can be trusted, which I should have done in the first
place with 20/20 hindsight), just BED (bitching et demonstratum?) that

$value = $table->{'key'};

is yet another Perl construct that is consistently inconsistent.


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