lib::Carp::Assert(3)  User Contributed Perl Documentation lib::Carp::Assert(3)

       Carp::Assert - executable comments

           # Assertions are on.
           use Carp::Assert;

           $next_sunrise_time = sunrise();

           # Assert that the sun must rise in the next 24 hours.
           assert(($next_sunrise_time - time) < 24*60*60) if DEBUG;

           # Assert that your customer's primary credit card is active
           affirm {
               my @cards = @{$customer->credit_cards};

           # Assertions are off.
           no Carp::Assert;

           $next_pres = divine_next_president();

           # Assert that if you predict Dan Quayle will be the next president
           # your crystal ball might need some polishing.  However, since
           # assertions are off, IT COULD HAPPEN!
           shouldnt($next_pres, 'Dan Quayle') if DEBUG;

           "We are ready for any unforseen event that may or may not
               - Dan Quayle

       Carp::Assert is intended for a purpose like the ANSI C library
       assert.h.  If you're already familiar with assert.h, then you can
       probably skip this and go straight to the FUNCTIONS section.

       Assertions are the explict expressions of your assumptions about the
       reality your program is expected to deal with, and a declaration of
       those which it is not.  They are used to prevent your program from
       blissfully processing garbage inputs (garbage in, garbage out becomes
       garbage in, error out) and to tell you when you've produced garbage
       output.  (If I was going to be a cynic about Perl and the user nature,
       I'd say there are no user inputs but garbage, and Perl produces nothing

       An assertion is used to prevent the impossible from being asked of your
       code, or at least tell you when it does.  For example:

           # Take the square root of a number.
           sub my_sqrt {
               my($num) = shift;

               # the square root of a negative number is imaginary.
               assert($num >= 0);

               return sqrt $num;

       The assertion will warn you if a negative number was handed to your
       subroutine, a reality the routine has no intention of dealing with.

       An assertion should also be used a something of a reality check, to
       make sure what your code just did really did happen:

           open(FILE, $filename) ⎪⎪ die $!;
           @stuff = <FILE>;
           @stuff = do_something(@stuff);

           # I should have some stuff.
           assert(@stuff > 0);

       The assertion makes sure you have some @stuff at the end.  Maybe the
       file was empty, maybe do_something() returned an empty list... either
       way, the assert() will give you a clue as to where the problem lies,
       rather than 50 lines down at when you wonder why your program isn't
       printing anything.

       Since assertions are designed for debugging and will remove themelves
       from production code, your assertions should be carefully crafted so as
       to not have any side-effects, change any variables or otherwise have
       any effect on your program.  Here is an example of a bad assertation:

           assert($error = 1 if $king ne 'Henry');  # Bad!

       It sets an error flag which may then be used somewhere else in your
       program. When you shut off your assertions with the $DEBUG flag, $error
       will no longer be set.

       Here's another example of bad use:

           assert($next_pres ne 'Dan Quayle' or goto Canada);  # Bad!

       This assertion has the side effect of moving to Canada should it fail.
       This is a very bad assertion since error handling should not be placed
       in an assertion, nor should it have side-effects.

       In short, an assertion is an executable comment.  For instance, instead
       of writing this

           # $life ends with a '!'
           $life = begin_life();

       you'd replace the comment with an assertion which enforces the comment.

           $life = begin_life();
           assert( $life =~ /!$/ );


               assert(EXPR) if DEBUG;
               assert(EXPR, $name) if DEBUG;

           assert's functionality is effected by compile time value of the
           DEBUG constant, controlled by saying use Carp::Assert or no
           Carp::Assert.  In the former case, assert will function as below.
           Otherwise, the assert function will compile itself out of the
           program.  See the section on Debugging vs Production for details.

           Give assert an expression, assert will Carp::confess() if that
           expression is false, otherwise it does nothing.  (DO NOT use the
           return value of assert for anything, I mean it... really!).

           The error from assert will look something like this:

               Assertion failed!
                       Carp::Assert::assert(0) called at prog line 23
                       main::foo called at prog line 50

           Indicating that in the file "prog" an assert failed inside the
           function main::foo() on line 23 and that foo() was in turn called
           from line 50 in the same file.

           If given a $name, assert() will incorporate this into your error
           message, giving users something of a better idea what's going on.

               assert( Dogs->isa('People'), 'Dogs are people, too!' ) if DEBUG;
               # Result - "Assertion (Dogs are people, too!) failed!"


               affirm BLOCK if DEBUG;
               affirm BLOCK $name if DEBUG;

           Very similar to assert(), but instead of taking just a simple
           expression it takes an entire block of code and evaluates it to
           make sure its true.  This can allow more complicated assertions
           than assert() can without letting the debugging code leak out into
           production and without having to smash together several statements
           into one.

               affirm {
                   my $customer = Customer->new($customerid);
                   my @cards = $customer->credit_cards;
                   grep { $_->is_active } @cards;
               } "Our customer has an active credit card";

           affirm() also has the nice side effect that if you forgot the if
           DEBUG suffix its arguments will not be evaluated at all.  This can
           be nice if you stick affirm()s with expensive checks into hot loops
           and other time-sensitive parts of your program.



               should  ($this, $shouldbe)   if DEBUG;
               shouldnt($this, $shouldntbe) if DEBUG;

           Similar to assert(), it is specially for simple "this should be
           that" or "this should be anything but that" style of assertions.

           Due to Perl's lack of a good macro system, assert() can only report
           where something failed, but it can't report what failed or how.
           should() and shouldnt() can produce more informative error

               Assertion ('this' should be 'that'!) failed!
                       Carp::Assert::should('this', 'that') called at moof line 29
                       main::foo() called at moof line 58

           So this:

               should($this, $that) if DEBUG;

           is similar to this:

               assert($this eq $that) if DEBUG;

           except for the better error message.

           Currently, should() and shouldnt() can only do simple eq and ne
           tests (respectively).  Future versions may allow regexes.

Debugging vs Production
       Because assertions are extra code and because it is sometimes necessary
       to place them in 'hot' portions of your code where speed is paramount,
       Carp::Assert provides the option to remove its assert() calls from your

       So, we provide a way to force Perl to inline the switched off assert()
       routine, thereby removing almost all performance impact on your
       production code.

           no Carp::Assert;  # assertions are off.
           assert(1==1) if DEBUG;

       DEBUG is a constant set to 0.  Adding the 'if DEBUG' condition on your
       assert() call gives perl the cue to go ahead and remove assert() call
       from your program entirely, since the if conditional will always be

           # With C<no Carp::Assert> the assert() has no impact.
           for (1..100) {
               assert( do_some_really_time_consuming_check ) if DEBUG;

       If if DEBUG gets too annoying, you can always use affirm().

           # Once again, affirm() has (almost) no impact with C<no Carp::Assert>
           for (1..100) {
               affirm { do_some_really_time_consuming_check };

       Another way to switch off all asserts, system wide, is to define the
       NDEBUG or the PERL_NDEBUG environment variable.

       You can safely leave out the "if DEBUG" part, but then your assert()
       function will always execute (and its arguments evaluated and time
       spent).  To get around this, use affirm().  You still have the overhead
       of calling a function but at least its arguments will not be evaluated.

Differences from ANSI C
       assert() is intended to act like the function from ANSI C fame.
       Unfortunately, due to perl's lack of macros or strong inlining, it's
       not nearly as unobtrusive.

       Well, the obvious one is the "if DEBUG" part.  This is cleanest way I
       could think of to cause each assert() call and its arguments to be
       removed from the program at compile-time, like the ANSI C macro does.

       Also, this version of assert does not report the statement which
       failed, just the line number and call frame via Carp::confess.  You
       can't do assert('$a == $b') because $a and $b will probably be lexical,
       and thus unavailable to assert().  But with Perl, unlike C, you always
       have the source to look through, so the need isn't as great.

       With no Carp::Assert (or NDEBUG) and using the if DEBUG suffixes on all
       your assertions, Carp::Assert has almost no impact on your production
       code.  I say almost because it does still add some load-time to your
       code (I've tried to reduce this as much as possible).

       If you forget the if DEBUG on an assert(), should() or shouldnt(), its
       arguments are still evaluated and thus will impact your code.  You'll
       also have the extra overhead of calling a subroutine (even if that
       subroutine does nothing).

       Forgetting the if DEBUG on an affirm() is not so bad.  While you still
       have the overhead of calling a subroutine (one that does nothing) it
       will not evaluate its code block and that can save alot.

       Try to remember the if DEBUG.

       NDEBUG  Defining NDEBUG switches off all assertions.  It has the same
               effect as changing "use Carp::Assert" to "no Carp::Assert" but
               it effects all code.

               Same as NDEBUG and will override it.  Its provided to give you
               something which won't conflict with any C programs you might be
               working on at the same time.

       Someday, Perl will have an inline pragma, and the if DEBUG
       bletcherousness will go away.

       affirm() mucks with the expression's caller and it is run in an eval so
       anything that checks $^S will be wrong.

       Yes, there is a shouldn't routine.  It mostly works, but you must put
       the if DEBUG after it.

       It would be nice if we could warn about missing if DEBUG.

       Michael G Schwern <>

3rd Berkeley Distribution    perl 5.005, patch 03         lib::Carp::Assert(3)