Reading a Particular Line in a File

Problem

You want to extract a single line from a file.

Solution

The simplest solution is to read the lines until you get to the one you want:

# looking for line number $DESIRED_LINE_NUMBER
$. = 0;
do { $LINE = <HANDLE> } until $. == $DESIRED_LINE_NUMBER || eof;

If you are going to be doing this a lot and the file fits into memory, read the file into an array:

@lines = <HANDLE>;
$LINE = $lines[$DESIRED_LINE_NUMBER];

If you will be retrieving lines by number often and the file doesn’t fit into memory, build a byte-address index to let you seek directly to the start of the line:

# usage: build_index(*DATA_HANDLE, *INDEX_HANDLE) sub build_index { my $data_file = shift; my $index_file = shift; my $offset = 0; while (<$data_file>) { print $index_file pack("N", $offset); $offset = tell($data_file); } } # usage: line_with_index(*DATA_HANDLE, *INDEX_HANDLE, $LINE_NUMBER) # returns line or undef if LINE_NUMBER was out of range sub line_with_index { my $data_file = shift; my $index_file = shift; my $line_number = shift; my $size; # size of an index entry my $i_offset; # offset into the index of the entry my $entry; # index entry my $d_offset; # offset into the data file $size = length(pack("N", 0)); $i_offset = $size * ($line_number-1); seek($index_file, $i_offset, 0) or return; read($index_file, $entry, $size); $d_offset = unpack("N", $entry); seek($data_file, $d_offset, 0); return scalar(<$data_file>); } # usage: open(FILE, "< $file") or die "Can't open $file ...

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