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Sets a function's environment


f = setfenv (f, env)


Sets the current environment to be used by f, which can be a function, userdata, thread or stack level. Level 1 is the current function. Level 0 is the global environment of the current thread. The "env" argument is a table, which effectively becomes the "root" for the environment.

The return value is the function whose environment was changed, unless the argument was 0.

function f (v)
  test = v  -- assign to global variable test
end -- function f

local myenv = {}  -- my local environment table
setfenv (f, myenv)  -- change environment for function f
f (42)  -- call f with new environment

print (test) --> nil  (global test was not changed)
print (myenv.test)  --> 42  (test inside myenv was changed)

This can be used as a form of "sandbox", so that functions can run in an environment where they do not have access to normal global variables. For example, in the above code, you could not call "print" from inside function f, as print is not in the environment. To make it accessible you might do this:

myenv.print = print -- copy print function into environment table

A nice use of the setfenv function is to limit the damage that can be done when reading an external file.
An example is to let the user of your script provide a configuration file, that you want to read in. An example might be:

a = 42
b = "nick"
c = { "the", "quick", "brown", "fox" }

A quick way of processing that file would be to: dofile ("config.txt")
However if the "config.txt" file contained malicious code (like: os.remove "myapplication.exe") then it could have undesired side-effects. Even a simple assignment like: 'print = nil' could cause problems. The solution is to use setfenv to limit the global environment for this file, like this:

config = {} -- empty environment table
-- load the file, get a function to execute  
local f = assert (loadfile ("config.txt"))
-- want to load file into the config table
setfenv (f, config)
-- load it
f ()
print (config.a)  --> 42 

What this does is change the global environment for the function returned from loadfile to be the empty config table. This means that all "global" variables will be relative to config, not _G. It also means that all the standard functions (like os.remove) are not visible.

See Also ...

Lua functions

assert - Asserts that condition is not nil and not false
collectgarbage - Collects garbage
dofile - Executes a Lua file
error - Raises an error message
gcinfo - Returns amount of dynamic memory in use
getfenv - Returns the current environment table
getmetatable - Returns the metatable for the object
ipairs - Iterates over a numerically keyed table
load - Loads a chunk by calling a function repeatedly
loadfile - Loads a Lua file and parses it
loadlib - Loads a DLL (obsolete in Lua 5.1)
loadstring - Compiles a string of Lua code
module - Creates a Lua module
next - Returns next key / value pair in a table
pairs - Traverse all items in a table
pcall - Calls a function in protected mode
print - Prints its arguments
rawequal - Compares two values for equality without invoking metamethods
rawget - Gets the value of a table item without invoking metamethods
rawset - Sets the value of a table item without invoking metamethods
require - Loads a module
select - Returns items in a list
setmetatable - Sets the metatable for a table
tonumber - Converts a string (of the given base) to a number
tostring - Converts its argument to a string
type - Returns the type of a variable
unpack - Unpacks a table into individual items
xpcall - Calls a function with a custom error handler


Lua base functions
Lua bc (big number) functions
Lua bit manipulation functions
Lua coroutine functions
Lua debug functions
Lua io functions
Lua math functions
Lua os functions
Lua package functions
Lua PCRE regular expression functions
Lua script extensions
Lua string functions
Lua syntax
Lua table functions
Lua utilities
Scripting callbacks - plugins

(Help topic: lua=setfenv)

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Written by Nick Gammon - 5K   profile for Nick Gammon on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites   Marriage equality

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