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Scalar::Util - A selection of general-utility scalar subroutines


use Scalar::Util qw(blessed dualvar isweak readonly reftype tainted weaken);


Scalar::Util contains a selection of subroutines that people have expressed would be nice to have in the perl core, but the usage would not really be high enough to warrant the use of a keyword, and the size so small such that being individual extensions would be wasteful.

By default Scalar::Util does not export any subroutines. The subroutines defined are

blessed EXPR

If EXPR evaluates to a blessed reference the name of the package that it is blessed into is returned. Otherwise undef is returned.

$scalar = "foo";
$class  = blessed $scalar;           # undef

$ref    = [];
$class  = blessed $ref;              # undef

$obj    = bless [], "Foo";
$class  = blessed $obj;              # "Foo"
dualvar NUM, STRING

Returns a scalar that has the value NUM in a numeric context and the value STRING in a string context.

$foo = dualvar 10, "Hello";
$num = $foo + 2;                    # 12
$str = $foo . " world";             # Hello world
isweak EXPR

If EXPR is a scalar which is a weak reference the result is true.

$ref  = \$foo;
$weak = isweak($ref);               # false
$weak = isweak($ref);               # true
openhandle FH

Returns FH if FH may be used as a filehandle and is open, or FH is a tied handle. Otherwise undef is returned.

$fh = openhandle(*STDIN);		# \*STDIN
$fh = openhandle(\*STDIN);		# \*STDIN
$fh = openhandle(*NOTOPEN);		# undef
$fh = openhandle("scalar");		# undef
readonly SCALAR

Returns true if SCALAR is readonly.

sub foo { readonly($_[0]) }

$readonly = foo($bar);              # false
$readonly = foo(0);                 # true
reftype EXPR

If EXPR evaluates to a reference the type of the variable referenced is returned. Otherwise undef is returned.

$type = reftype "string";           # undef
$type = reftype \$var;              # SCALAR
$type = reftype [];                 # ARRAY

$obj  = bless {}, "Foo";
$type = reftype $obj;               # HASH
tainted EXPR

Return true if the result of EXPR is tainted

$taint = tainted("constant");       # false
$taint = tainted($ENV{PWD});        # true if running under -T
weaken REF

REF will be turned into a weak reference. This means that it will not hold a reference count on the object it references. Also when the reference count on that object reaches zero, REF will be set to undef.

This is useful for keeping copies of references , but you don't want to prevent the object being DESTROY-ed at its usual time.

  my $var;
  $ref = \$var;
  weaken($ref);                     # Make $ref a weak reference
# $ref is now undef


There is a bug in perl5.6.0 with UV's that are >= 1<<31. This will show up as tests 8 and 9 of dualvar.t failing


Copyright (c) 1997-2001 Graham Barr <>. All rights reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

Except weaken and isweak which are

Copyright (c) 1999 Tuomas J. Lukka <>. All rights reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as perl itself.


The weaken and isweak subroutines in this module and the patch to the core Perl were written in connection with the APress book `Tuomas J. Lukka's Definitive Guide to Object-Oriented Programming in Perl', to avoid explaining why certain things would have to be done in cumbersome ways.