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Perl Language Reference Manual
by Larry Wall and others
Paperback (6"x9"), 724 pages
ISBN 9781906966027
RRP £29.95 ($39.95)

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Attempts to read LENGTH characters of data into variable SCALAR from the specified FILEHANDLE. Returns the number of characters actually read, 0 at end of file, or undef if there was an error (in the latter case $! is also set). SCALAR will be grown or shrunk so that the last character actually read is the last character of the scalar after the read.

An OFFSET may be specified to place the read data at some place in the string other than the beginning. A negative OFFSET specifies placement at that many characters counting backwards from the end of the string. A positive OFFSET greater than the length of SCALAR results in the string being padded to the required size with "\0" bytes before the result of the read is appended.

The call is implemented in terms of either Perl's or your system's native fread(3) library function. To get a true read(2) system call, see sysread.

Note the characters: depending on the status of the filehandle, either (8-bit) bytes or characters are read. By default all filehandles operate on bytes, but for example if the filehandle has been opened with the :utf8 I/O layer (see , and the open pragma, "Perl pragma to set default PerlIO layers for input and output" (open) in the Perl Library Reference Manual (Volume 1)), the I/O will operate on UTF-8 encoded Unicode characters, not bytes. Similarly for the :encoding pragma: in that case pretty much any characters can be read.

ISBN 9781906966027Perl Language Reference ManualSee the print edition