Defining Environment Variables Indirectly in bash

I spent a chunk of time this morning engaged in what ended up being something of a red herring, but learning was involved along the way, so here it is… how to set an environment variable indirectly in a bash shell.

Suppose I have a variable TAG=key and a variable VARVAL=thisval.

#Set key_val=$VARVAL
eval ${TAG}_val=\$VARVAL

#Export key_val=$VARVAL
export eval ${TAG}_val=\$VARVAL

Now suppose I want to test if $TAG exists, and further whether it is set to the same value as $CURRTAG. The ${TAG:+1} tests whether that TAG variable exists and that it is not empty. The -a is a logical AND.

if [ -n "${TAG:+1}" -a "$TAG" != "$CURRTAG" ]; then
    tmpf=${TAG}_val
    export VARVAL=${!tmpf}
    export CURRTAG=$TAG
fi

Erm, I think… I realised this wouldn’t actually be appropriate for the context I had in mind so never fully tested it…

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...