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open(++SourceSink, +Mode, ?Stream, ++Options)

Opens the I/O source or sink SourceSink in mode Mode and associates it with the stream identifier Stream.
Atom, string or structure.
One of the atoms read, write, update, append.
Atom or variable.


This predicate opens an ECLiPSe I/O stream.

The most common use is for opening files. In this case, SourceSink is a file name (atom or string).

Mode is one of the following

    read         open for reading
    write        open for writing
    update       open for reading and writing
    append       open for writing at the end
A file must already exist if it is to be opened in read mode. A file opened in append mode is opened in write mode at the end of the file. If an existing file is opened in write mode, it is truncated to zero size, i.e. its previous content is lost.

If Stream is a variable, it will be instantiated to a system-generated stream handle. This handle can subsequently be used to identify the stream. If Stream is an atom, then this atom will be used as a symbolic alias name for the stream (like with the alias(Name) option, or set_stream/2). The use of handles should be preferred.

If SourceSink is of the form string(InitialString), then a so-called string stream is opened. A string stream is basically an in-memory file and its initial contents is the string InitialString. A string stream can be used like any other stream, i.e. it is possible to read, write and seek like on a true file. The current contents of a string stream can at any time be retrieved as a whole using get_stream_info(Stream, name, Contents).

If SourceSink is of the form queue(InitialString), then a queue stream is opened. It behaves like a string that can be written at the end and read from the beginning. Seeking is not allowed on queues. The current contents of a queue can at any time be retrieved as a whole using get_stream_info(Stream, name, Contents). Queues are considered to be at end-of-file while they are empty. Queues can be configured to raise an event every time something is written to the previously empty queue (see open/4).

If SourceSink is of the form fd(Integer), then the stream in opened onto an existing operating system file descriptor.

Options is a list of zero or more of the following stream options:

Make the stream known under an alternative name. Name is an atom, and must not already be a stream alias. See also set_stream/2.
a hint for output operations (e.g. write_exdr/2) to use a more compact output format (output streams only). OnOff is one of the atoms on or off. The default is on (for files, pipes and sockets) or off (for queues and string streams).
This option applies to file streams only: the value 'when_closed' causes the associated file to be deleted as soon as the stream is closed (whether implicitly or explicitly). The value 'when_lost' causes the associated file to be deleted only when the stream is implicitly closed, either because of failure across the opening, or because its handles were garbage collected. The default is 'off'.
The character encoding used on the stream. In version 6.1, the only allowed values are: octet, ascii, and iso_latin_1 (the default).
This option affects only write-streams and determines which end-of-line character sequence is written by predicates like nl/1, writeln/1 and printf/3. Possible values are the atoms lf and crlf. The default for string and queue streams is lf, for other streams it is operating-system dependent.
Controls how end-of-file is handled on this stream. Possible values are: 'eof_code' (return an code appropriate to the input predicate used - this is the default), 'error' (raise an error), 'reset' (like eof_code, but allow further read attempts on the stream).
This option configures a read-queue stream or a socket stream to raise the given event whenever data arrives on the previously empty stream. This option is intended for queue streams in embedded applications of ECLiPSe, or for socket streams in remote connection setups. The event handler should consume all data that is available on the stream. Name must be an atom or an event handle.
This option affects only write-streams and allows to configure a stream to automatically flush after every line written. Where is one of the atoms end_of_line (flush automatically after every line) or flush (require explicit flushing). The default setting is flush, except for tty streams where the default is end_of_line.
Input streams only. Specifies whether term-macros (see macro/3) will be expanded when reading from this stream using read/2, read_term/3 etc. OnOff is one of the atoms on or off, the default is on.
Write-streams only. Specifies the default output options that will be used when printing terms onto this stream, e.g. using write/2. The format of OptionList is the same as the one accepted by the write_term/2,3 predicates. Note that certain output predicates can override these default settings, e.g. writeq/2, write_term/3, printf/3, etc.
The option reposition(true) verifies that the stream can be repositioned, i.e. that seek/2 can be used on it. Otherwise an error is raised. The option reposition(false) has no effect.
This option is intended for queue streams in embedded applications of ECLiPSe. It configures the stream to yield control to the host program whenever a read-queue reaches end-of-file or a write-queue gets flushed. See the Embedding Manual for more details. OnOff is one of the atoms on or off.

Lifetime of Streams

A stream lives until it is closed. Streams that are only referenced by handle are closed automatically, either on failure across the open/3,4 predicate, or after all copies of their handle become unused and garbage collected. This means that no extra precautions have to be taken to ensure that streams are closed on failure or when aborting. Handle-streams can optionally be closed explicitly if their lifetime is statically known in the program. Streams that have aliases cannot be closed automatically: all aliases must be closed explicitly. NOTE: Stream handles are not normal Prolog terms! They can not be assembled, decomposed, or occur in Prolog text.

Modes and Determinism


(4) instantiation fault
File or Mode is not instantiated.
(5) type error
File is not an atom, string or structure.
(5) type error
Mode is not an atom.
(5) type error
Stream is not an atom or a variable.
(170) system interface error
The operating system cannot open the file.
(192) illegal stream mode
Mode is an atom, but is not a valid mode.


    See open/3.

See Also

open / 3, existing_file / 4, close / 1, close / 2, set_stream_property / 3, at / 2, at_eof / 1, current_stream / 1, get_stream_info / 3, seek / 2, set_stream / 2, stream_select / 3, stream_truncate / 1, flush / 1, write_term / 2, write_term / 3