[% setvar title Remove long-deprecated $* (aka $MULTILINE_MATCHING) %]
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Remove long-deprecated $* (aka $MULTILINE_MATCHING)
Maintainer: Hugo van der Sanden <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 29 Sep 2000 Last Modified: 30 Sep 2000 Mailing List: email@example.com Number: 347 Version: 2 Status: Frozen
The magic $* variable (known in English as $MULTILINE_MATCHING) has been deprecated for years. It is time to kill it.
In days of yore, you would set $* to 1 to achieve in all regexps the same as you can now achieve on a per-regexp basis with the /m flag. Nowadays, when most perl programmers have never heard of it, it is an accident waiting to happen and requires ugly additional cruft for the defensive programmer to avoid.
The particular danger of $* is its 'action at a distance' effect: as a global variable, its effect reaches into and out of scopes that we normally expect to protect us.
The long deprecation cycle helps here. p52p6 should complain and die if it sees any attempt to set $* or $MULTILINE_MATCHING to a non-zero value, or any attempt to alias it other than in English. It should silently (or maybe with a warning) ignore any attempt to set it to a zero value, and silently (or maybe with a warning) replace any attempt to read it with a constant undef.
This only simplifies the regexp engine, and should help fix some longstanding bugs in the scope of /m. There is a bit of work to do to extricate it, but nothing seriously difficult.
perlvar manpage for discussion of $*