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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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11.7 Warning on \1 Instead of $1

Some people get too used to writing things like:

$pattern =~ s/(\W)/\\\1/g;

This is grandfathered for the RHS of a substitute to avoid shocking the sed addicts, but it's a dirty habit to get into. That's because in PerlThink, the righthand side of an s/// is a double-quoted string. \1 in the usual double-quoted string means a control-A. The customary Unix meaning of \1 is kludged in for s///. However, if you get into the habit of doing that, you get yourself into trouble if you then add an /e modifier.

s/(\d+)/ \1 + 1 /eg;        # causes warning under -w

Or if you try to do

s/(\d+)/\1000/;

You can't disambiguate that by saying \{1}000, whereas you can fix it with ${1}000. The operation of interpolation should not be confused with the operation of matching a backreference. Certainly they mean two different things on the left side of the s///.

ISBN 9781906966027Perl Language Reference ManualSee the print edition