This first edition was written for Lua 5.0. While still largely relevant for later versions, there are some differences.
The third edition targets Lua 5.2 and is available at Amazon and other bookstores.
By buying the book, you also help to support the Lua project.
|Programming in Lua|
|Part I. The Language Chapter 4. Statements|
Besides global variables, Lua supports local variables. We create local variables with the local statement:
j = 10 -- global variable local i = 1 -- local variableUnlike global variables, local variables have their scope limited to the block where they are declared. A block is the body of a control structure, the body of a function, or a chunk (the file or string with the code where the variable is declared).
x = 10 local i = 1 -- local to the chunk while i<=x do local x = i*2 -- local to the while body print(x) --> 2, 4, 6, 8, ... i = i + 1 end if i > 20 then local x -- local to the "then" body x = 20 print(x + 2) else print(x) --> 10 (the global one) end print(x) --> 10 (the global one)Beware that this example will not work as expected if you enter it in interactive mode. The second line,
local i = 1, is a complete chunk by itself. As soon as you enter this line, Lua runs it and starts a new chunk in the next line. By then, the local declaration is already out of scope. To run such examples in interactive mode, you should enclose all the code in a do block.
It is good programming style to use local variables whenever possible. Local variables help you avoid cluttering the global environment with unnecessary names. Moreover, the access to local variables is faster than to global ones.
Lua handles local variable declarations as statements. As such, you can write local declarations anywhere you can write a statement. The scope begins after the declaration and goes until the end of the block. The declaration may include an initial assignment, which works the same way as a conventional assignment: Extra values are thrown away; extra variables get nil. As a specific case, if a declaration has no initial assignment, it initializes all its variables with nil.
local a, b = 1, 10 if a<b then print(a) --> 1 local a -- `= nil' is implicit print(a) --> nil end -- ends the block started at `then' print(a,b) --> 1 10
A common idiom in Lua is
local foo = fooThis code creates a local variable,
foo, and initializes it with the value of the global variable
foo. That idiom is useful when the chunk needs to preserve the original value of
fooeven if later some other function changes the value of the global
foo; it also speeds up access to
Because many languages force you to declare all local variables at the beginning of a block (or a procedure), some people think it is a bad practice to use declarations in the middle of a block. Quite the opposite: By declaring a variable only when you need it, you seldom need to declare it without an initial value (and therefore you seldom forget to initialize it). Moreover, you shorten the scope of the variable, which increases readability.
We can delimit a block explicitly, bracketing it with the keywords do-end. These do blocks can be useful when you need finer control over the scope of one or more local variables:
do local a2 = 2*a local d = sqrt(b^2 - 4*a*c) x1 = (-b + d)/a2 x2 = (-b - d)/a2 end -- scope of `a2' and `d' ends here print(x1, x2)
|Copyright © 2003–2004 Roberto Ierusalimschy. All rights reserved.|