from small one page howto to huge articles all in one place

search text in:

Which kernel version do you use?

poll results

Last additions:
using iotop to find disk usage hogs

using iotop to find disk usage hogs






average rating: 1.7 (102 votes) (1=very good 6=terrible)

May 25th. 2007:




why adblockers are bad

Workaround and fixes for the current Core Dump Handling vulnerability affected kernels

Workaround and fixes for the current Core Dump Handling vulnerability affected kernels






average rating: 1.4 (42 votes) (1=very good 6=terrible)

April, 26th. 2006:

You are here: manpages


Section: Perl Programmers Reference Guide (1)
Updated: 2017-08-16
Index Return to Main Contents


diagnostics, splain - produce verbose warning diagnostics  


Using the "diagnostics" pragma:

    use diagnostics;
    use diagnostics -verbose;

    enable  diagnostics;
    disable diagnostics;

Using the "splain" standalone filter program:

    perl program 2>diag.out
    splain [-v] [-p] diag.out

Using diagnostics to get stack traces from a misbehaving script:

    perl -Mdiagnostics=-traceonly




The diagnostics Pragma

This module extends the terse diagnostics normally emitted by both the perl compiler and the perl interpreter (from running perl with a -w switch or "use warnings"), augmenting them with the more explicative and endearing descriptions found in perldiag. Like the other pragmata, it affects the compilation phase of your program rather than merely the execution phase.

To use in your program as a pragma, merely invoke

    use diagnostics;

at the start (or near the start) of your program. (Note that this does enable perl's -w flag.) Your whole compilation will then be subject(ed :-) to the enhanced diagnostics. These still go out STDERR.

Due to the interaction between runtime and compiletime issues, and because it's probably not a very good idea anyway, you may not use "no diagnostics" to turn them off at compiletime. However, you may control their behaviour at runtime using the disable() and enable() methods to turn them off and on respectively.

The -verbose flag first prints out the perldiag introduction before any other diagnostics. The $diagnostics::PRETTY variable can generate nicer escape sequences for pagers.

Warnings dispatched from perl itself (or more accurately, those that match descriptions found in perldiag) are only displayed once (no duplicate descriptions). User code generated warnings a la warn() are unaffected, allowing duplicate user messages to be displayed.

This module also adds a stack trace to the error message when perl dies. This is useful for pinpointing what caused the death. The -traceonly (or just -t) flag turns off the explanations of warning messages leaving just the stack traces. So if your script is dieing, run it again with

  perl -Mdiagnostics=-traceonly my_bad_script

to see the call stack at the time of death. By supplying the -warntrace (or just -w) flag, any warnings emitted will also come with a stack trace.  

The splain Program

While apparently a whole nuther program, splain is actually nothing more than a link to the (executable) module, as well as a link to the diagnostics.pod documentation. The -v flag is like the "use diagnostics -verbose" directive. The -p flag is like the $diagnostics::PRETTY variable. Since you're post-processing with splain, there's no sense in being able to enable() or disable() processing.

Output from splain is directed to STDOUT, unlike the pragma.  


The following file is certain to trigger a few errors at both runtime and compiletime:

    use diagnostics;
    print NOWHERE "nothing\n";
    print STDERR "\n\tThis message should be unadorned.\n";
    warn "\tThis is a user warning";
    print "\nDIAGNOSTIC TESTER: Please enter a <CR> here: ";
    my $a, $b = scalar <STDIN>;
    print "\n";
    print $x/$y;

If you prefer to run your program first and look at its problem afterwards, do this:

    perl -w 2>test.out
    ./splain < test.out

Note that this is not in general possible in shells of more dubious heritage, as the theoretical

    (perl -w >/dev/tty) >& test.out
    ./splain < test.out

Because you just moved the existing stdout to somewhere else.

If you don't want to modify your source code, but still have on-the-fly warnings, do this:

    exec 3>&1; perl -w 2>&1 1>&3 3>&- | splain 1>&2 3>&-

Nifty, eh?

If you want to control warnings on the fly, do something like this. Make sure you do the "use" first, or you won't be able to get at the enable() or disable() methods.

    use diagnostics; # checks entire compilation phase 
        print "\ntime for 1st bogus diags: SQUAWKINGS\n";
        print BOGUS1 'nada';
        print "done with 1st bogus\n";

    disable diagnostics; # only turns off runtime warnings
        print "\ntime for 2nd bogus: (squelched)\n";
        print BOGUS2 'nada';
        print "done with 2nd bogus\n";

    enable diagnostics; # turns back on runtime warnings
        print "\ntime for 3rd bogus: SQUAWKINGS\n";
        print BOGUS3 'nada';
        print "done with 3rd bogus\n";

    disable diagnostics;
        print "\ntime for 4th bogus: (squelched)\n";
        print BOGUS4 'nada';
        print "done with 4th bogus\n";



Diagnostic messages derive from the perldiag.pod file when available at runtime. Otherwise, they may be embedded in the file itself when the splain package is built. See the Makefile for details.

If an extant $SIG{__WARN__} handler is discovered, it will continue to be honored, but only after the diagnostics::splainthis() function (the module's $SIG{__WARN__} interceptor) has had its way with your warnings.

There is a $diagnostics::DEBUG variable you may set if you're desperately curious what sorts of things are being intercepted.

    BEGIN { $diagnostics::DEBUG = 1 }



Not being able to say ``no diagnostics'' is annoying, but may not be insurmountable.

The "-pretty" directive is called too late to affect matters. You have to do this instead, and before you load the module.

    BEGIN { $diagnostics::PRETTY = 1 }

I could start up faster by delaying compilation until it should be needed, but this gets a ``panic: top_level'' when using the pragma form in Perl 5.001e.

While it's true that this documentation is somewhat subserious, if you use a program named splain, you should expect a bit of whimsy.  


Tom Christiansen <>, 25 June 1995.



The diagnostics Pragma
The splain Program

Support us on Content Nation
rdf newsfeed | rss newsfeed | Atom newsfeed
- Powered by LeopardCMS - Running on Gentoo -
Copyright 2004-2020 Sascha Nitsch Unternehmensberatung GmbH
Valid XHTML1.1 : Valid CSS : buttonmaker
- Level Triple-A Conformance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 -
- Copyright and legal notices -
Time to create this page: 16.0 ms