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Perl Cookbook by Nathan Torkington, Tom Christiansen

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Fetching a URL from a Perl Script

Problem

You have a URL that you want to fetch from a script.

Solution

Use the get function from by the CPAN module LWP::Simple, part of LWP.

use LWP::Simple;
$content = get($URL);

Discussion

The right library makes life easier, and the LWP modules are the right ones for this task.

The get function from LWP::Simple returns undef on error, so check for errors this way:

use LWP::Simple;
unless (defined ($content = get $URL)) {
    die "could not get $URL\n";
}

When it’s run that way, however, you can’t determine the cause of the error. For this and other elaborate processing, you’ll have to go beyond LWP::Simple.

Example 20.1 is a program that fetches a document remotely. If it fails, it prints out the error status line. Otherwise it prints out the document title and the number of bytes of content. We use three modules from LWP and one other from CPAN.

LWP::UserAgent

This module creates a virtual browser. The object returned from the new constructor is used to make the actual request. We’ve set the name of our agent to “Schmozilla/v9.14 Platinum” just to give the remote webmaster browser-envy when they see it in their logs.

HTTP::Request

This module creates a request but doesn’t send it. We create a GET request and set the referring page to a fictitious URL.

HTTP::Response

This is the object type returned when the user agent actually runs the request. We check it for errors and contents.

URI::Heuristic

This curious little module uses Netscape-style guessing ...

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