(make.info)Foreach Function


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The `foreach' Function
======================

   The `foreach' function is very different from other functions.  It
causes one piece of text to be used repeatedly, each time with a
different substitution performed on it.  It resembles the `for' command
in the shell `sh' and the `foreach' command in the C-shell `csh'.

   The syntax of the `foreach' function is:

     $(foreach VAR,LIST,TEXT)

The first two arguments, VAR and LIST, are expanded before anything
else is done; note that the last argument, TEXT, is *not* expanded at
the same time.  Then for each word of the expanded value of LIST, the
variable named by the expanded value of VAR is set to that word, and
TEXT is expanded.  Presumably TEXT contains references to that
variable, so its expansion will be different each time.

   The result is that TEXT is expanded as many times as there are
whitespace-separated words in LIST.  The multiple expansions of TEXT
are concatenated, with spaces between them, to make the result of
`foreach'.

   This simple example sets the variable `files' to the list of all
files in the directories in the list `dirs':

     dirs := a b c d
     files := $(foreach dir,$(dirs),$(wildcard $(dir)/*))

   Here TEXT is `$(wildcard $(dir)/*)'.  The first repetition finds the
value `a' for `dir', so it produces the same result as `$(wildcard
a/*)'; the second repetition produces the result of `$(wildcard b/*)';
and the third, that of `$(wildcard c/*)'.

   This example has the same result (except for setting `dirs') as the
following example:

     files := $(wildcard a/* b/* c/* d/*)

   When TEXT is complicated, you can improve readability by giving it a
name, with an additional variable:

     find_files = $(wildcard $(dir)/*)
     dirs := a b c d
     files := $(foreach dir,$(dirs),$(find_files))

Here we use the variable `find_files' this way.  We use plain `=' to
define a recursively-expanding variable, so that its value contains an
actual function call to be reexpanded under the control of `foreach'; a
simply-expanded variable would not do, since `wildcard' would be called
only once at the time of defining `find_files'.

   The `foreach' function has no permanent effect on the variable VAR;
its value and flavor after the `foreach' function call are the same as
they were beforehand.  The other values which are taken from LIST are
in effect only temporarily, during the execution of `foreach'.  The
variable VAR is a simply-expanded variable during the execution of
`foreach'.  If VAR was undefined before the `foreach' function call, it
is undefined after the call.  *Note The Two Flavors of Variables:
Flavors.

   You must take care when using complex variable expressions that
result in variable names because many strange things are valid variable
names, but are probably not what you intended.  For example,

     files := $(foreach Es escrito en espanol!,b c ch,$(find_files))

might be useful if the value of `find_files' references the variable
whose name is `Es escrito en espanol!' (es un nombre bastante largo,
no?), but it is more likely to be a mistake.


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