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4.9.3 Using getline from a File

Use ‘getline < file’ to read the next record from file. Here file is a string-valued expression that specifies the file name. ‘< file’ is called a redirection because it directs input to come from a different place. For example, the following program reads its input record from the file secondary.input when it encounters a first field with a value equal to 10 in the current input file:

     {
         if ($1 == 10) {
              getline < "secondary.input"
              print
         } else
              print
     }

Because the main input stream is not used, the values of NR and FNR are not changed. However, the record it reads is split into fields in the normal manner, so the values of $0 and the other fields are changed, resulting in a new value of NF. RT is also set.

According to POSIX, ‘getline < expression’ is ambiguous if expression contains unparenthesized operators other than ‘$’; for example, ‘getline < dir "/" file’ is ambiguous because the concatenation operator is not parenthesized. You should write it as ‘getline < (dir "/" file)’ if you want your program to be portable to all awk implementations.