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Problem with how to assign an array

From: Steven W. Orr
Subject: Problem with how to assign an array
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2011 14:55:13 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101207 Thunderbird/3.1.7

I know how to assign a simple array. My problem is a bit harder.

I have three arrays

a1=(aaa bbb ccc ddd)
a2=(qqq www eee rrr)
a3=(fff ggg hhh)

I then set a_all

a_all=("${a1[*]}" "${a2[*]}" "${a3[*]}"

Later on, I decide which element of a_all I really want. So with my new index calculated, I say

real_a=( ${a_all[index]} )

And it worked really well until today. The problem is that I need an element of the aNs to be allowed to be null values.

Like this:

a1=(aaa bbb ccc ddd '' jjj kkk lll)

such that if index is 0, I'd like real_a to end up with 8 elements instead of 7.

I could create a sentinel, I could use a case statement, I could create all kinds of confabulations, but I'd like to know if there's a better way to do it.

I literally tried everything I could think of.

Thanks :-(

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steveo at syslang.net

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