2.8 Loading Dynamic Extensions into Your Program

This section describes a feature that is specific to gawk.

The @load keyword can be used to read external awk extensions (stored as system shared libraries). This allows you to link in compiled code that may offer superior performance and/or give you access to extended capabilities not supported by the awk language. The AWKLIBPATH variable is used to search for the extension. Using @load is completely equivalent to using the -l command-line option.

If the extension is not initially found in AWKLIBPATH, another search is conducted after appending the platform’s default shared library suffix to the file name. For example, on GNU/Linux systems, the suffix ‘.so’ is used:

$ gawk '@load "ordchr"; BEGIN {print chr(65)}'
-| A

This is equivalent to the following example:

$ gawk -lordchr 'BEGIN {print chr(65)}'
-| A

For command-line usage, the -l option is more convenient, but @load is useful for embedding inside an awk source file that requires access to an extension.

Writing Extensions for gawk, describes how to write extensions (in C or C++) that can be loaded with either @load or the -l option. It also describes the ordchr extension.