FAQ 8.27 What's wrong with using backticks in a void context?

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8.27: What's wrong with using backticks in a void context?

    Strictly speaking, nothing. Stylistically speaking, it's not a good way
    to write maintainable code. Perl has several operators for running
    external commands. Backticks are one; they collect the output from the
    command for use in your program. The "system" function is another; it
    doesn't do this.

    Writing backticks in your program sends a clear message to the readers
    of your code that you wanted to collect the output of the command. Why
    send a clear message that isn't true?

    Consider this line:

        `cat /etc/termcap`;

    You forgot to check $? to see whether the program even ran correctly.
    Even if you wrote

        print `cat /etc/termcap`;

    this code could and probably should be written as

        system("cat /etc/termcap") == 0
            or die "cat program failed!";

    which will get the output quickly (as it is generated, instead of only
    at the end) and also check the return value.

    system() also provides direct control over whether shell wildcard
    processing may take place, whereas backticks do not.


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