Shell variables tests: is it lengthy?


Let’s look at a test to understand whether a variable is defined and not empty - what we can call lengthy.

Sometimes in a shell function we want to check that a non-empty parameter was passed in, or that a variable is populated with a non-empty value. The following functions help to this regard:

is_var_lengthy() {
   local value
   eval 'value="${'"$1"':-""}"'
   [ -n "$value" ]
is_value_lengthy() { [ $# -gt 0 ] && [ -n "$1" ] ; }

If they seem similar to the functions in Shell variables tests: is it true?… they are 😎

Let’s see some examples, based on the following variables:

unset UNDEF

First, let’s see is_var_lengthy:

$ for v in UNDEF EMPTY LENGTHY ; do
   is_var_lengthy "$v" && printf '%s: lengthy\n' "$v" || printf '%s: empty\n' "$v"

UNDEF: empty
EMPTY: empty
LENGTHY: lengthy

Now, let’s look at is_value_lengthy, including a case where we pass an empty argument list:

$ is_value_lengthy "$EMPTY" && printf 'EMPTY: lengthy\n' || printf 'EMPTY: empty\n'
EMPTY: empty

$ is_value_lengthy "$LENGTHY" && printf 'LENGTHY: lengthy\n' || printf 'LENGTHY: empty\n'
LENGTHY: lengthy

$ is_value_lengthy && printf '(no args): lengthy\n' || printf '(no args): empty\n'
(no args): empty

They work pretty well!

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