Bash secret powers

Bash scripting has evolved a lot in the last ten years.

I get used to relay on bash for all normal “data domination” tasks (like file system refactorings, database extraction and reporting and so on) and switching to python/ruby/perl when the complexity gets bigger. I didn’t imagine bash is even more powerful :) This article by Robert Muth so you new nice tricks: I  add here some other like mapfile and stress the most important one.

Update 2016 Last but not least,if you do now know about bash history, this link will teach you a huge set of tricks
Updated 2019 Bash Bible will further extend the topic.


Fail early

First of all, start every script with

So your script will alt if an error occur.

The magic $@ is beter then $*

The $@ is to be preferred instead of $* when you must pass parameters to other scripts because it sees arguments as separate word. I want to know it ten years ago!

Using $@ you can do wrapper script which can pass around input to other stuff.

No more temp files with <()

The <() operator is very nice to provide the output of a command like a file, so you avoid creating temp file names (no more $$ magic!)

Reporting needs?

A nice feature is mapfile because it read lines from the standard input into an indexed array variable. You can also avoid the loop:

It also support reading from a file descriptor and also a callback function too.
Piping inside mapfile  seems not to work in some case (I think by bash is too old and buggy), so the following  way

is the suggested one by me: it also helps to remember the useful <() operator.
As you see is also possible to use prinf to make  loop ranges (line 2).

Collapsing Functions

A collapsing function is a function whose behavior changes depending upon the circumstances under which it’s run. Function collapsing is useful when you find yourself repeatedly checking a variable whose value never change.

The trick is is to redefine the funtcion upon first run.
If not abused, the trick is quite clean to use.

Last but not least: blogging!

Blogging rocks, you know ya?. So this wonderful bashblog script at  will give you a sneak peek on how to write a well structured application…in bash!