Scripting Best Practices

Juliet Kemp uses Perl examples to demonstrate techniques for keeping all of your scripts, regardless of what language they are written in, understandable and useful.
Posted September 4, 2008

Juliet Kemp

Juliet Kemp

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Scripting languages are incredibly useful for quick-fix scripts. The problem with this is when the quick-fix script is still in place 6 months down the line, at which point the corners you cut because, hey, it's just a short-term fix, come back to bite you. Read on for some best practice tips to make the experience less painful.

(A note: my own scripting languages of choice are perl and bash, but the principles hold across other languages.)

Treat your variables right

When you pass variables into a script or a subroutine, don't just use the default names. Give them real names immediately - it's much easier to keep track of what you're passing in and what you're doing with it. A perl example:

sub concatenate_files {
	my ($firstfile, $secondfile) = @_;
	// rest of the subroutine

And while we're naming variables: name them something sensible. Something that'll be meaningful when you read this, say, tomorrow morning before coffee. So, $filelist, not $fl.

Don't hard-code anything. Put all your static values into variables, and collect them all at the top of your script.

That way when something changes (your email, the mailserver address) and the script breaks, the fix will be a straightforward two-second job.

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Tags: email, job, IT, VAR

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