[plain text]

.TH LIBEXPECT 3 "12 December 1991"
libexpect \- programmed dialogue with interactive programs \- C functions
This library contains functions that allow Expect to be used as
a Tcl extension or to be used directly from C or C++ (without Tcl).
Adding Expect as a Tcl extension is very short and simple, so that will be
covered first.

.B #include "expect_tcl.h"
.B Expect_Init(interp);

.B cc files... \-lexpect5.20 \-ltcl7.5 \-lm

Note: library versions may differ in the actual release.

The Expect_Init function adds expect commands to the named
interpreter.  It avoids overwriting commands that already exist,
however aliases beginning with "exp_" are always created for expect
commands.  So for example, "send" can be used as "exp_send".

Generally, you should only call Expect commands via Tcl_Eval.
Certain auxiliary functions may be called directly.  They are summarized
below.  They may be useful in constructing your own main.  Look
at the file exp_main_exp.c in the Expect distribution as
a prototype main.  Another prototype is tclAppInit.c in the
Tcl source distribution.  A prototype for working with Tk is in
exp_main_tk.c in the Expect distribution.

int exp_cmdlinecmds;
int exp_interactive;
FILE *exp_cmdfile;
char *exp_cmdfilename;
int exp_tcl_debugger_available;

void	exp_parse_argv(Tcl_Interp *,int argc,char **argv);
int	exp_interpreter(Tcl_Interp *);
void	exp_interpret_cmdfile(Tcl_Interp *,FILE *);
void	exp_interpret_cmdfilename(Tcl_Interp *,char *);
void	exp_interpret_rcfiles(Tcl_Interp *,int my_rc,int sys_rc);
char *	exp_cook(char *s,int *len);
void	(*exp_app_exit)EXP_PROTO((Tcl_Interp *);
void	exp_exit(Tcl_Interp *,int status);
void	exp_exit_handlers(Tcl_Interp *);
void	exp_error(Tcl_Interp,char *,...);

.B exp_cmdlinecmds
is 1 if Expect has been invoked with commands on the program command-line (using "-c" for example).
.B exp_interactive
is 1 if Expect has been invoked with the -i flag or if no commands or script is being invoked.
.B exp_cmdfile
is a stream from which Expect will read commands.
.B exp_cmdfilename
is the name of a file which Expect will open and read commands from.
.B exp_tcl_debugger_available
is 1 if the debugger has been armed.

.B exp_parse_argv
reads the representation of the command line.
Based on what is found, any of the other variables listed here
are initialized appropriately.
.B exp_interpreter
interactively prompts the user for commands and evaluates them.
.B exp_interpret_cmdfile
reads the given stream and evaluates any commands found.
.B exp_interpret_cmdfilename
opens the named file and evaluates any commands found.
.B exp_interpret_rcfiles
reads and evalutes the .rc files.  If my_rc is zero,
then ~/.expectrc is skipped.  If sys_rc is zero, then the system-wide
expectrc file is skipped.
.B exp_cook
returns a static buffer containing the argument reproduced with
newlines replaced by carriage-return linefeed sequences.
The primary purpose of this is to allow messages to be produced
without worrying about whether the terminal is in raw mode or
cooked mode.
If length is zero, it is computed via strlen.
.B exp_error is a printf-like function that writes the result
to interp->result.
.B #include <expect.h>

.B int
.B "exp_spawnl(file, arg0 [, arg1, ..., argn] (char *)0);"
.B char *file;
.B char *arg0, *arg1, ... *argn;

.B int
.B exp_spawnv(file,argv);
.B char *file, *argv[ ];

.B int
.B exp_spawnfd(fd);
.B int fd;

.B exp_popen(command);
.B char *command;

.B extern int exp_pid;
.B extern int exp_ttyinit;
.B extern int exp_ttycopy;
.B extern int exp_console;
.B extern char *exp_stty_init;
.B extern void (*exp_close_in_child)();
.B extern void (*exp_child_exec_prelude)();
.B extern void exp_close_tcl_files();

.B cc files... \-lexpect \-ltcl \-lm

.B exp_spawnl
.B exp_spawnv
fork a new process so that its stdin,
stdout, and stderr can be written and read by the current process.
.I file
is the name of a file to be executed.  The
.I arg
pointers are
null-terminated strings.  Following the style of execve(),
.I arg0
.IR argv[0] )
is customarily a duplicate of the name of the file.
Four interfaces are available,
.B exp_spawnl
is useful when the number of
arguments is known at compile time.
.B exp_spawnv
is useful when the number of arguments is not known at compile time.
.B exp_spawnfd
is useful when an open file descriptor is already available as a source.
.B exp_popen
is explained later on.
If the process is successfully created, a file descriptor is returned
which corresponds to the process's stdin, stdout and stderr.
A stream may be associated with the file descriptor by using fdopen().
(This should almost certainly be followed by setbuf() to unbuffer the I/O.)
Closing the file descriptor will typically be detected by the
process as an EOF.  Once such a process exits, it should be waited
upon (via wait) in order to free up the kernel process slot.  (Some systems
allow you to avoid this if you ignore the SIGCHLD signal).
.B exp_popen
is yet another interface, styled after popen().  It takes a Bourne
shell command line, and returns a stream that corresponds to the process's
stdin, stdout and stderr.  The actual implementation of
.B exp_popen
below demonstrates
.BR exp_spawnl .

char *program;
	FILE *fp;
	int ec;

	if (0 > (ec = exp_spawnl("sh","sh","-c",program,(char *)0)))
	if (NULL == (fp = fdopen(ec,"r+")) return(0);
	setbuf(fp,(char *)0);

After a process is started, the variable
.B exp_pid
is set to the process-id of the new process.  The variable
.B exp_pty_slave_name
is set to the name of the slave side of the pty.

The spawn functions uses a pty to communicate with the process.  By
default, the pty is initialized the same way as the user's tty (if
possible, i.e., if the environment has a controlling terminal.)  This
initialization can be skipped by setting exp_ttycopy to 0.

The pty is further initialized to some system wide defaults if
exp_ttyinit is non-zero.  The default is generally comparable to "stty sane".

The tty setting can be further modified by setting the variable
.BR exp_stty_init .
This variable is interpreted in the style of stty arguments.  For
example, exp_stty_init = "sane"; repeats the default initialization.

On some systems, it is possible to redirect console output to ptys.
If this is supported, you can force the next spawn to obtain the
console output by setting the variable
.B exp_console
to 1.

Between the time a process is started and the new program is given
control, the spawn functions can clean up the environment by closing
file descriptors.  By default, the only file descriptors closed are
ones internal to Expect and any marked "close-on-exec".

If needed, you can close additional file descriptors by creating
an appropriate function and assigning it to exp_close_in_child.
The function will be called after the fork and before the exec.
(This also modifies the behavior of the spawn command in Expect.)

If you are also using Tcl, it may be convenient to use the function
exp_close_tcl_files which closes all files between the default
standard file descriptors and the highest descriptor known to Tcl.
(Expect does this.)

The function exp_child_exec_prelude is the last function called prior
to the actual exec in the child.  You can redefine this for effects
such as manipulating the uid or the signals.


.B extern int exp_autoallocpty;
.B extern int exp_pty[2];

The spawn functions use a pty to communicate with the process.  By
default, a pty is automatically allocated each time a process is spawned.
If you want to allocate ptys yourself, before calling one of the spawn
functions, set
.B exp_autoallocpty
to 0,
.B exp_pty[0]
to the master pty file descriptor and
.B exp_pty[1]
to the slave pty file descriptor.
The expect library will not do any pty initializations (e.g., exp_stty_init will not be used).
The slave pty file descriptor will be
automatically closed when the process is spawned.  After the process is
started, all further communication takes place with the master pty file
.B exp_spawnl
.B exp_spawnv
duplicate the shell's actions
in searching for an executable file in a list of directories.  The
directory list is obtained from the environment.
While it is possible to use read() to read information from a process
spawned by
.B exp_spawnl
.BR exp_spawnv ,
more convenient functions are provided.  They are as

.B int
.B exp_expectl(fd,type1,pattern1,[re1,],value1,type2,...,exp_end);
.B int fd;
.B enum exp_type type;
.B char *pattern1, *pattern2, ...;
.B regexp *re1, *re2, ...;
.B int value1, value2, ...;

.B int
.B exp_fexpectl(fp,type1,pattern1,[re1,]value1,type2,...,exp_end);
.B FILE *fp;
.B enum exp_type type;
.B char *pattern1, *pattern2, ...;
.B regexp *re1, *re2, ...;
.B int value1, value2, ...;

.B enum exp_type {
.B	exp_end,
.B	exp_glob,
.B	exp_exact,
.B	exp_regexp,
.B	exp_compiled,
.B	exp_null,
.B };

.B struct exp_case {
.B	char *pattern;
.B	regexp *re;
.B	enum exp_type type;
.B	int value;
.B };

.B int
.B exp_expectv(fd,cases);
.B int fd;
.B struct exp_case *cases;

.B int
.B exp_fexpectv(fp,cases);
.B FILE *fp;
.B struct exp_case *cases;

.B extern int exp_timeout;
.B extern char *exp_match;
.B extern char *exp_match_end;
.B extern char *exp_buffer;
.B extern char *exp_buffer_end;
.B extern int exp_match_max;
.B extern int exp_full_buffer;
.B extern int exp_remove_nulls;

The functions wait until the output from a process matches one of the
patterns, a specified time period has passed, or an EOF is seen.
The first argument to each function is either a file descriptor or a stream.
Successive sets of arguments describe patterns and associated integer values
to return when the pattern matches.
The type argument is one of four values.  exp_end indicates that no more
patterns appear.
exp_glob indicates that the pattern is a glob-style string pattern.
exp_exact indicates that the pattern is an exact string.
exp_regexp indicates that the pattern is a regexp-style string pattern.
exp_compiled indicates that the pattern is a regexp-style string pattern,
and that its compiled form is also provided.
exp_null indicates that the pattern is a null (for debugging purposes,
a string pattern must also follow).
If the compiled form is not provided with the functions
.B exp_expectl
.BR exp_fexpectl ,
any pattern compilation done internally is
thrown away after the function returns.  The functions
.B exp_expectv
.B exp_fexpectv
will automatically compile patterns and will not throw them away.
Instead, they must be discarded by the user, by calling free on each
pattern.  It is only necessary to discard them, the last time the
cases are used.
Regexp subpatterns matched are stored in the compiled regexp.
Assuming "re" contains a compiled regexp, the matched string can be
found in re->startp[0].  The match substrings (according to the parentheses)
in the original pattern can be found in re->startp[1], re->startp[2], and
so on, up to re->startp[9].  The corresponding strings ends are re->endp[x]
where x is that same index as for the string start.

The type exp_null matches if a null appears in the input.  The
variable exp_remove_nulls must be set to 0 to prevent nulls from
being automatically stripped.  By default, exp_remove_nulls is set
to 1 and nulls are automatically stripped.

.B exp_expectv
.B exp_fexpectv
are useful when the number of patterns is
not known in advance.  In this case, the sets are provided in an array.
The end of the array is denoted by a struct exp_case with type exp_end.
For the rest
of this discussion, these functions will be referred to generically as
.IR expect.
If a pattern matches, then the corresponding integer value is returned.
Values need not be unique, however they should be positive to avoid
being mistaken for EXP_EOF, EXP_TIMEOUT, or EXP_FULLBUFFER.
Upon EOF or timeout, the value
is returned.  The
default timeout period is 10 seconds but may be changed by setting the
.BR exp_timeout .
A value of -1
disables a timeout from occurring.
A value of 0 causes the expect function to return immediately (i.e., poll)
after one read().
However it must be preceded by a function such as select, poll, or 
an event manager callback to guarantee that there is data to be read.

If the variable exp_full_buffer is 1, then EXP_FULLBUFFER is returned
if exp_buffer fills with no pattern having matched.

When the expect function returns,
.B exp_buffer
points to the buffer
of characters that was being considered for matching.
.B exp_buffer_end
points to one past the last character in exp_buffer.
If a match occurred,
.B exp_match
points into
.B exp_buffer
where the match began.
.B exp_match_end
points to one character past where the match ended.
Each time new input arrives, it is compared to each pattern in the
order they are listed.  Thus, you may test for absence of a match by
making the last pattern something guaranteed to appear, such as a
prompt.  In situations where there is no prompt, you must check for
(just like you would if you were interacting manually).  More philosophy
and strategies on specifying
.B expect
patterns can be found in the
documentation on the
.B expect
program itself.  See SEE ALSO below.
Patterns are the usual C-shell-style regular expressions.  For
example, the following fragment looks for a successful login, such
as from a telnet dialogue.

	switch (exp_expectl(
		exp_glob,"invalid password",ABORT,
		exp_end)) {
	case CONN:	/* logged in successfully */
	case BUSY:	/* couldn't log in at the moment */
	case ABORT:	/* can't log in at any moment! */
	default: /* problem with expect */

Asterisks (as in the
example above) are a useful shorthand for omitting line-termination
characters and other detail.
Patterns must match the entire output of the current process (since
the previous read on the descriptor or stream).  
More than 2000 bytes of output can
force earlier bytes to be "forgotten".  This may be changed by setting
the variable
.BR exp_match_max .
Note that excessively large values can slow down the pattern matcher.

.B extern int exp_disconnected;
.B int exp_disconnect();

It is possible to move a process into the background after it has
begun running.  A typical use for this is to read passwords and then
go into the background to sleep before using the passwords to do real
To move a process into the background, fork, call exp_disconnect() in the
child process and exit() in the parent process.  This disassociates
your process from the controlling terminal.  If you wish to move a
process into the background in a different way, you must set the
variable exp_disconnected to 1.  This allows processes spawned after
this point to be started correctly.
By default, the expect functions block inside of a read on a single file
descriptor.  If you want to wait on patterns from multiple file
use select, poll, or an event manager.
They will tell you what file descriptor is ready to read.

When a file descriptor is ready to read, you can use the expect
functions to do one and only read by setting timeout to 0.  


.B void
.B exp_slave_control(fd,enable)
.B int fd;
.B int enable;


Pty trapping is normally done automatically by the expect functions.
However, if you want to issue an ioctl, for example, directly on the
slave device, you should temporary disable trapping.

Pty trapping can be controlled with exp_slave_control.  The first
argument is the file descriptor corresponding to the spawned process.
The second argument is a 0 if trapping is to be disabled and 1 if it
is to be enabled.  

All functions indicate errors by returning \-1 and setting errno.
Errors that occur after the spawn functions fork (e.g., attempting to
spawn a non-existent program) are written to the process's stderr,
and will be read by the first
.BR expect .
.B extern int exp_reading;
.B extern jmp_buf exp_readenv;

.B expect
uses alarm() to timeout, thus if you generate alarms during
.BR expect ,
it will timeout prematurely.
.B expect
calls read() which can be interrupted by signals.  If
you define signal handlers, you can choose to restart or abort
.BR expect 's
internal read.  The variable,
.BR exp_reading ,
is true if (and only if)
.BR expect 's
read has been interrupted.  longjmp(exp_readenv,EXP_ABORT) will abort
the read.  longjmp(exp_readenv,EXP_RESTART) will restart the read.

.B extern int exp_loguser;
.B extern int exp_logfile_all
.B extern FILE *exp_logfile;

.B exp_loguser
is nonzero,
.B expect
sends any output from the spawned process to
stdout.  Since interactive programs typically echo their input, this
usually suffices to show both sides of the conversation.  If
.B exp_logfile
is also nonzero, this same output is written to the stream defined by 
.BR exp_logfile .
.B exp_logfile_all
is non-zero,
.B exp_logfile
is written regardless of the value of 
.BR exp_loguser .

While I consider the library to be easy to use, I think that the
standalone expect program is much, much, easier to use than working
with the C compiler and its usual edit, compile, debug cycle.  Unlike
typical C programs, most of the debugging isn't getting the C compiler
to accept your programs - rather, it is getting the dialogue correct.
Also, translating scripts from expect to C is usually not necessary.
For example, the speed of interactive dialogues is virtually never an
issue.  So please try the standalone 'expect' program first.  I
suspect it is a more appropriate solution for most people than the
Nonetheless, if you feel compelled to debug in C,
here are some tools to help you.

.B extern int exp_is_debugging;
.B extern FILE *exp_debugfile;

While expect dialogues seem very intuitive, trying to codify them in a
program can reveal many surprises in a program's interface.  Therefore
a variety of debugging aids are available.  They are controlled by the
above variables, all 0 by default.

Debugging information internal to
.B expect
is sent to stderr when
.B exp_is_debugging
is non-zero.  The debugging information includes
every character received, and every attempt made to match the current
input against the patterns.  In addition, non-printable characters are
translated to a printable form.  For example, a control-C appears as a
caret followed by a C.  If 
.B exp_logfile
is non-zero, this information
is also written to that stream.
.B exp_debugfile
is non-zero, all normal and debugging information is
written to that stream, regardless of the value of 
.BR exp_is_debugging .
The stream versions of the
.B expect
functions are much slower than the
file descriptor versions because there is no way to portably read
an unknown number of bytes without the potential of timing out.
Thus, characters are read one at a time.  You are therefore strongly
encouraged to use the file descriptor versions of
.B expect
automated versions of interactive programs don't usually demand high speed
You can actually get the best of both worlds, writing with the usual
stream functions and reading with the file descriptor versions of
.B expect
as long as you don't attempt to intermix other stream input
functions (e.g., fgetc).
To do this, pass fileno(stream) as the file descriptor each time.
Fortunately, there is little reason to use anything but the
.B expect
functions when reading from interactive programs.
There is no matching exp_pclose to exp_popen (unlike popen and pclose).
It only takes two functions to close down a connection (fclose() followed
by waiting on the pid), but it is not uncommon to separate these two
actions by large time intervals, so the function seems of little value.
If you are running on a Cray running Unicos (all I know for sure from
experience), you must run your compiled program as root or setuid.  The
problem is that the Cray only allows root processes to open ptys. 
You should observe as much precautions as possible:  If you don't need
permissions, setuid(0) only immediately before calling one of the spawn
functions and immediately set it back afterwards.
.B spawn
takes little time to execute.  If you notice spawn taking a
significant amount of time, it is probably encountering ptys that are
wedged.  A number of tests are run on ptys to avoid entanglements with
errant processes.  (These take 10 seconds per wedged pty.)  Running
expect with the \-d option will show if
.B expect
is encountering many ptys in odd states.  If you cannot kill
the processes to which these ptys are attached, your only recourse may
be to reboot.
.B exp_fexpect
functions don't work at all under HP-UX - it appears to be a bug in getc.
Follow the
advice (above) about using the
.B exp_expect
functions (which doesn't need to call getc).  If you fix the problem (before
I do - please check the latest release) let me know.
An alternative to this library is the
.B expect
.B expect
interprets scripts written in a high-level language
which direct the dialogue.
In addition, the user can take control and interact directly when desired.
If it is not absolutely necessary to write your own C program, it is much
easier to use
.B expect
to perform the entire interaction.
It is described further in the following references:
"expect: Curing Those Uncontrollable Fits of Interactivity" \fRby Don Libes,
Proceedings of the Summer 1990 USENIX Conference,
Anaheim, California, June 11-15, 1990.
"Using expect to Automate System Administration Tasks" \fRby Don Libes,
Proceedings of the 1990 USENIX Large Installation Systems Administration
Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 17-19, 1990.
expect(1), alarm(3), read(2), write(2), fdopen(3), execve(2), execvp(3),
longjmp(3), pty(4).
There are several examples C programs in the test directory of
.BR expect 's
source distribution which use the expect library.
Don Libes,, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Thanks to John Ousterhout (UCBerkeley) for supplying the pattern
Design and implementation of the
.B expect
library was paid for by the U.S. government and is therefore in the public
However the author and NIST would like credit
if this program and documentation or portions of them are used.