The PIPE command allows you to perform UNIX style command processing by
executing multiple DCL commands in a single command line. You can use
the PIPE command to execute DCL commands in a number of ways:
- Multiple command execution
Multiple DCL commands are specified
in a single PIPE command and executed sequentially. The syntax for
multiple command execution is as follows:
PIPE command-sequence ; command-sequence [; command-sequences]...
- Conditional command execution
A command sequence is executed
conditionally depending on the execution result of the preceding
Using the following form, command-sequence2
executes if, and only if, command-sequence1 succeeds:
PIPE command-sequence1 && command-sequence2
Using the following form, command-sequence2 executes if, and only
if, command-sequence1 fails:
PIPE command-sequence1 || command-sequence2
- Pipeline command execution
A pipeline is formed by connecting
DCL commands with pipes as follows:
PIPE pipeline-segment-command | pipeline-segment-command [|...]
Each pipeline-segment command runs in a separate subprocess with
its SYS$OUTPUT connected to the SYS$INPUT of the next pipeline-segment
command. These subprocesses execute in parallel; however, they are
synchronized to the extent that each pipeline-segment command, except
the first, reads the standard output of its predecessor as its standard
input. A pipeline finishes execution when the last pipeline-segment
command is done.
It is very common to use filter applications in a
pipeline. A filter application is a program that takes data from
SYS$INPUT, transforms it in a specific way, and writes it to SYS$OUTPUT.
- Subshell execution
Command sequences can be executed in a
subprocess environment by using the subshell execution form:
PIPE ( command-sequence [separator command-sequence]... )
The command sequences in a subshell are executed in a subprocess
environment. DCL waits for the subshell to complete before executing
the next command sequence. The ( ) separator is similar to the
- Background execution
Command sequences can be executed in a
subprocess environment by using the following form:
PIPE command-sequence [ separator command-sequence]... &
DCL does not wait for the command sequences to finish. Control
passes back to DCL once the background subprocess is created.
- Input/output redirection
A command sequence can redirect its
SYS$INPUT, SYS$OUTPUT, or SYS$ERROR to a file during execution of the
command as follows:
To redirect SYS$INPUT:
PIPE command-sequence < redirected-input-file
To redirect SYS$OUTPUT:
PIPE command-sequence > redirected-output-file
To redirect SYS$ERROR:
PIPE command-sequence 2> redirected-error-file
A pipeline-segment command can also redirect its SYS$INPUT,
SYS$OUTPUT, or SYS$ERROR; however, SYS$OUTPUT redirection is allowed
only for the last pipeline-segment command, and SYS$INPUT redirection
is allowed only for the first pipeline-segment command.
You can interrupt a PIPE command by pressing Ctrl/Y. If the PIPE
command is executing in a pipeline or a subshell command sequence, the
command sequence and the PIPE command are deleted. In this case, a
CONTINUE command entered immediately after the interrupt will not
resume the execution of the PIPE command.
If the PIPE command is executing a command sequence other than a
subshell or a pipeline command sequence, DCL behaves as if the command
sequence were entered as a DCL command without the PIPE command verb
and interrupted by Ctrl/Y. See the OpenVMS User's Manual for more information
on the Ctrl/Y interrupt.
Each command sequence sets the global symbol $STATUS with a returned
value after it finishes execution. The return status of the PIPE
command is the return status of the last command performed in
the last segment. If all segments fail with some kind of error and the
last segment returns with success, the status returned to DCL is the
When a PIPE command is executed in a command procedure with the ON
condition processing, the conditional execution of command sequences
(&&, ||) takes precedence over the action previously specified
by the ON condition statement.
DCL Command Restrictions
The PIPE command creates a special execution context for its command
sequences. The following DCL commands either do not work or exhibit new
behavior in this context:
- PIPE --- Nested PIPE commands in the same command procedure level
are not allowed. There can only be one PIPE command context for each
command procedure level; however, nested PIPE commands at different
procedure levels are allowed. For example:
$ TYPE FOO.COM
$ ! FOO.COM
$ PIPE ...
$ PIPE @FOO.COM ; ...
In this example, the PIPE command inside FOO.COM is allowed because
it is executed at a different command procedure level.
- GOTO and EXIT --- These two commands, when executed as PIPE command
sequences, delete the PIPE command context before the GOTO or EXIT
command is executed. Any command sequences following these two commands
in a PIPE command are flushed.
- STOP --- The STOP command, when executed after a PIPE command is
interrupted by Ctrl/Y, deletes the PIPE command context.
- THEN, ELSE, ENDIF, SUBROUTINE, ENDSUBROUTINE, RETURN, and DCL
labels --- These commands cannot execute as PIPE command sequences
because it is not possible to realize their functions in a PIPE command
Improving Subprocess Performance
A PIPE command can generate a number of subprocesses during execution.
Often, the applications invoked by command sequences do not depend on
the process logical names and symbol names. In this case, the spawning
of subprocesses can be accelerated by using the /NOLOGICAL_NAMES and
/NOSYMBOLS qualifiers, which suppress the passing of process logical
names and symbols to the subprocesses created by the PIPE command.
DCL users can use the DEFINE or ASSIGN command to redirect SYS$INPUT,
SYS$OUTPUT, or SYS$ERROR. Such redirection can be created as either the
user-mode (using the /USER_MODE qualifier) or supervisor-mode (using
the /SUPERVISOR_MODE qualifier) redirection. A user-mode redirection
only affects the environment of the next user-mode image.
In a PIPE command, redirection can be achieved by using the redirection
syntax. A PIPE command redirection is quite different from that created
by the DEFINE or ASSIGN command, as follows:
- Redirections are created in supervisor mode. This means that both
user-mode applications and DCL commands are affected by the
- The redirected environment only applies to the command sequence or
the pipeline-segment command that specifies the redirection syntax.
After the execution of the command sequence or pipeline-segment
command, the original process input/output environment (that is,
SYS$INPUT, SYS$OUTPUT, and SYS$ERROR) is restored before command
When SYS$OUTPUT is redirected, the redirected output file is always
created, whether or not the command sequence actually writes to
SYS$OUTPUT. If a version of a file with the same name as the redirected
output file already exists, a new version of that file is created.
(This behavior is the same as using the DEFINE or ASSIGN command to
redefine SYS$OUTPUT in supervisor mode.) Note that the redirected file
is created before the command sequence is executed. If the redirected
file is also used in the command sequence, the operation may fail, as
in the following example:
$ PIPE SEARCH TRANS.LOG "alpha" > TRANS.LOG
%SEARCH-W-OPENIN, error opening TRANS.LOG;2 as input
-RMS-E-FLK, file currently locked by another user
In this example, a new version of TRANS.LOG is created and opened for
write access; the SEARCH command then tries to get read access to the
most recent version of TRANS.LOG instead of the expected previous
When SYS$ERROR is redirected, the redirected error file is only created
when the command sequence actually writes to the SYS$ERROR during
execution, and there is no existing file with the same name as the
redirected error file. If a file with the same name as the redirected
error file already exists, that file is opened as the redirected error
file. The error output generated by this command sequence is then
appended to the end of the redirected error file. (This behavior is the
same as using the DEFINE or ASSIGN command to redefine SYS$ERROR in
Pipelines and TEEs
This section describes aspects of DCL that function differently in the
context of a pipeline.
Some of the following constructs are used in the implementation of a
The SYS$COMMAND of a subprocess is normally the same as its SYS$INPUT
(if no command procedures are involved). In a pipeline, however, the
SYS$COMMAND of a subprocess is set to the SYS$COMMAND of the parent
process instead of to the preceding pipe (which is the SYS$INPUT of the
Using TEEs and SYS$PIPE
In most cases, input from the pipe can be obtained by reading the data
from SYS$INPUT; however, when a command procedure is invoked as a
pipeline segment command, SYS$INPUT is redirected to the command
procedure file. To obtain data from the pipe inside a command
procedure, the logical SYS$PIPE can be used.
The following is an example of a pipeline DCL application TEE.COM:
$ ! TEE.COM - command procedure to display/log data flowing through
$ ! a pipeline
$ ! Usage: @TEE log-file
$ OPEN/WRITE tee_file 'P1'
$ READ/END_OF_FILE=EXIT SYS$PIPE LINE
$ WRITE SYS$OUTPUT LINE ! Send it out to the next stage of the pipeline
$ WRITE tee_file LINE ! Log output to the log file
$ GOTO LOOP
$ CLOSE tee_file
The PIPE command to use TEE.COM can be:
$ PIPE SHOW SYSTEM | @TEE showsys.log | SEARCH SYS$INPUT LEF
The command procedure TEE.COM is used to log the data flowing through
the pipeline. It reads in the data from SYS$PIPE instead of SYS$INPUT.
Image Verification in a Pipeline
In a pipeline, image verification is turned off by default, even when
the command SET VERIFY=IMAGE is executed before the PIPE command is
entered. This prevents duplication of data records going through the
To turn on image verification in a pipeline, an explicit SET
VERIFY=IMAGE command must precede the pipeline segment command. You can
use a subshell to do this, as follows:
$ PIPE ... | (SET VERIFY=IMAGE ; ...) | ...
File Access Methods in a Pipeline
A pipeline segment command can only use the RMS sequential file access
method to read and write to the pipes. Certain OpenVMS utilities may
access their input and output files using methods other than sequential
access. These operations are not supported in a pipeline, and will
fail, as in the following example:
$ PIPE CC/NOOBJ/NOLIS TEST.C | SEARCH SYS$INPUT/WIND=(1,1) "%cc-w-"
%SEARCH-F-RFAERR, RMS error using RFA access
-RMS-F-RAC, invalid record access mode
In this example, the /WINDOW qualifier for the SEARCH command requires
the relative file access method.