Throwing and catching exceptions in Perl

While many people still check every method's return value, parse die's string messages and think that exceptions should be avoided at all cost, I will try to convert all exceptions to objects, create the base exception class and catch them with simple eval without using CPAN (blasphemy!).


So we want this to behave the same:

die 'error';

die MyException->new;

And we do not want to write this every time (from perldoc die):

use Scalar::Util "blessed";
eval { ... ; die Some::Module::Exception->new( FOO => "bar" ) };
if (my $ev_err = $@) {
    if (blessed($ev_err) && $ev_err->isa("Some::Module::Exception")) {
        # handle Some::Module::Exception
    else {
        # handle all other possible exceptions

We need to set up our own $SIG{__DIE__} handler:

use Scalar::Util qw(blessed);
$SIG{__DIE__} = sub {
    my ($e) = @_;

    return unless $^S;

    if (!blessed($e)) {
        $e =~ s/ at .*? line .*?\.//;
        chomp $e;
        $e = MyException->new(message => $e, caller => [caller]);


The magic $^S variable tells us to skip eval parsing phase.

We parse exception text because we still have to do it, in 2012!

chomp is because we don't want this:

something went wrong
 at line 42.

Also we can save caller information for later use.

Exception class

package MyException::Base;

use strict;
use warnings;

use overload
  '""'     => sub { $_[0]->as_string },
  'bool'   => sub {1},
  fallback => 1;

sub new {

sub as_string {
    my $self = shift;

    return sprintf("%s at %s line %s.",
        $self->{message}, $self->{path}, $self->{line});

We can add also throw, rethrow, does and other methods for convenience.

It is important to overload "" and bool because we want this to work:

print $e;

# and

if ($e) {
    # we had an exception


We can use Try::Tiny of course, but doing it with eval is as easy (and return works as expected!):

eval {
} || do {
    my $e = $@;

    if ($e->isa('MyException::FileNotFound')) {
    else {

Assigning $@ to a local variable is important since sometimes $@ behaves strangely (should ask a Perl guru).

See also

Of course you can use Error (Jakub Narębski points out that it's not recommended and you should look for Exception::Class) and similar modules from CPAN instead of writing you own implementation, but sometimes...


Hey! The above document had some coding errors, which are explained below:

  • Around line 118:

    Non-ASCII character seen before =encoding in 'Narębski'. Assuming UTF-8


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