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Re: Is there a good way to tell the difference between a variable declar

From: Koichi Murase
Subject: Re: Is there a good way to tell the difference between a variable declared in a function then a variable declared outside a function?
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2020 17:16:20 +0900

2020-08-30 13:38 Peng Yu <>:
> I don't a way like `declare -p` which return 0 (when the vairable is
> defined in a function) and return non-zero (when the variable is not
> defined in a function). I don't think `local` can do so.

First, I naively think you should already know whether the variable
name is declared in the current function because the function is
written by you, and all the current-function variables are declared by
you, so there is no need to dynamically test if the variable exists or
not.  If you declare a variable under certain conditions, you can
create another variable holding the state whether the variable exists
or not:

  local is_varname_set=no
  if some-conditoin; then
    local varname

  # You can check the value of another variable
  [[ $is_varname_set == yes ]]


I recommend you to write in the above way if there is no particular
reason, but if you really need to dynamically test a variable, in Bash
5.1, you can use `local -p':

  local -p varname &>/dev/null

In other versions of Bash, you can use `local' as Marco wrote.
Although the command `local' doesn't set the exit status that you
expect, you can always read and process the output of `local' for your
purpose.  I think

  local | grep '^varname='

would be probably the most straightforward way.  If you want to reduce
the number of fork/exec, you may test the output using the conditional
command `[[ ... ]]'.  For example,

  [[ $'\n'$(local) == *$'\n'varname=* ]]

Another way would be to use the fact that the local variable is
initialized to be unset when it is newly created:

  (varname=1; local varname; [[ ${varname+set} ]])

The above command first makes `varname' a `set' state by assigning a
value `1'. Next, it tries to create a new local variable by `local
varname'.  If there is already a local variable in the current
function, this doesn't have any effect, and the variable `varname'
remains in a `set' state.  If there is no local variable in the
current function, a variable is newly created in the current function
and initialized to be the `unset' state.  Finally one can check if the
variable has a `set' or `unset' state.  These processes break the
state of the variable, so need to be performed in a subshell.  For
this technique to work, the shell option `localvar_inherit' (available
with Bash 5.0+) needs to be turned off, i.e., `shopt -u

Note that the above methods cannot be encapsulated in a function
because the builtin `local' needs to be performed in the function
scope that you want to test with.  Instead, maybe you can store the
code in a variable and evaluated it by `eval'.  For example,

  # Prepare a global variable at the beginning of the script
  is_current_function_local_variable='(VAR=1; local VAR; [[ ${VAR+set} ]])'

  # Use the variable in a function scope
  eval "${is_current_function_local_variable//VAR/varname}"


If you don't need to distinguish the current-function local variable
and the previous-function local variable and just want to test if the
variable is a global variable or a function-scope variable, there is
another way.  You can use the fact that a readonly global variable
prevents the creation of function-scope variables with the same name
while a readonly function-scope variable does not:

  # Prepare a function
  is-global() (readonly "$1"; ! local "$1") &>/dev/null

  # Use a function to test if a variable is function-scope variable.
  ! is-global varname

This function `is-global' first make the variable `readonly' and then
try to create a new variable with the same name.  Because this changes
the `readonly' attribute of the variable, it should be processed in a


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