Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.

Closing Input and Output Files and Pipes

If the same file name or the same shell command is used with getline (see section Explicit Input with getline) more than once during the execution of an awk program, the file is opened (or the command is executed) only the first time. At that time, the first record of input is read from that file or command. The next time the same file or command is used in getline, another record is read from it, and so on.

Similarly, when a file or pipe is opened for output, the file name or command associated with it is remembered by awk and subsequent writes to the same file or command are appended to the previous writes. The file or pipe stays open until awk exits.

This implies that if you want to start reading the same file again from the beginning, or if you want to rerun a shell command (rather than reading more output from the command), you must take special steps. What you must do is use the close function, as follows:




The argument filename or command can be any expression. Its value must exactly match the string that was used to open the file or start the command (spaces and other "irrelevant" characters included). For example, if you open a pipe with this:

"sort -r names" | getline foo

then you must close it with this:

close("sort -r names")

Once this function call is executed, the next getline from that file or command, or the next print or printf to that file or command, will reopen the file or rerun the command.

Because the expression that you use to close a file or pipeline must exactly match the expression used to open the file or run the command, it is good practice to use a variable to store the file name or command. The previous example would become

sortcom = "sort -r names"
sortcom | getline foo

This helps avoid hard-to-find typographical errors in your awk programs.

Here are some reasons why you might need to close an output file:

close returns a value of zero if the close succeeded. Otherwise, the value will be non-zero. In this case, gawk sets the variable ERRNO to a string describing the error that occurred.

If you use more files than the system allows you to have open, gawk will attempt to multiplex the available open files among your data files. gawk's ability to do this depends upon the facilities of your operating system: it may not always work. It is therefore both good practice and good portability advice to always use close on your files when you are done with them.

Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.