You want to extract variable length fields from your input.
split with a pattern matching the field separators.
# given $RECORD with field separated by PATTERN, # extract @FIELDS. @FIELDS = split(/PATTERN/, $RECORD);
split function takes up to three arguments:
LIMIT parameter is the maximum number of fields to split into. (If the input contains more fields, they are returned unsplit in the final list element.) If
LIMIT is omitted, all fields (except any final empty ones) are returned.
EXPRESSION gives the string value to split. If
EXPRESSION is omitted,
$_ is split.
PATTERN is a pattern matching the field separator. If
PATTERN is omitted, contiguous stretches of whitespace are used as the field separator and leading empty fields are silently discarded.
If your input field separator isn't a fixed string, you might want
split to return the field separators as well as the data by using parentheses in
PATTERN to save the field separators. For instance:
returns the values:
(3, '+', 5, '-', 2)
To split colon-separated records in the style of the /etc/passwd file, use:
@fields = split(/:/, $RECORD);
The classic application of
split is whitespace-separated records:
@fields = split(/\s+/, $RECORD);
$RECORD started with whitespace, this last use of
split would have put an empty string into the first element of
split would consider the record to have an initial empty field. If you didn't want this, you could use this special form of
@fields = split(" ", $RECORD);
This behaves like
split with a pattern of
/\s+/, but ignores leading whitespace.
When the record separator can appear in the record, you have a problem. The usual solution is to escape occurrences of the record separator in records by prefixing them with a backslash. See Recipe 1.13.