Chapter 4. Recommended libraries

4.2. Handling exceptions

Table of Contents


Not a library, but this is the most popular way to handle exceptions. The performance is unbeatable and since eval is a builtin function you don't have to use a module at the top of every file. Unfortunately there are drawbacks -- especially for developers visiting Perl for the first time.

The first hurdle for beginners is that the syntax is unique to Perl. Most languages use try/catch. There are also some significant traps available for beginners to tumble into:

  1. $@ is a global variable.
  2. eval blocks behave more like anonymous subroutines than if blocks.
  3. You probably want to defend against exception objects that evaluate as false.

If that last one worries you then your code contains hard to read idioms like:

unless ( eval { try_something_risky(); return 1 } ) {

Anyone designing a new language would not ask developers to do this. And explaining this idiom to a beginner is going make them want to run the other direction.

However, over 40% of Perl developers prefer to handle exceptions with die/eval so you will want to be familiar with the syntax and pitfalls.

I explain the syntax and how to handle all the potential pitfalls in Handling exceptions with die/eval.

For more information check out the official Perl docs for die and eval.


MetaCPAN: Try::Tiny
++ rating: 153
Last update: 2017
Maintainer: ETHER

Try::Tiny is the most popular try/catch solution and the defacto standard in the community. For years it was the best solution available if you wanted try/catch syntax.

However, Try::Tiny is an order of magnitude slower than either eval or Syntax::Keyword::Try. It depends on your application if this is a problem or not. For many applications its not important.

Also if you are a visitor from another language, Try::Tiny has syntax quirks which make it not quite the try/catch you are used to.

Be sure to check out Syntax::Keyword::Try as its probably a better solution for most people.


++ rating: 19
Last update: 2018
Maintainer: PEVANS

This is probably the best try/catch solution for handling exceptions in Perl. This module is not widely used yet and is unlikely to replace die/eval anytime soon.

Syntax::Keyword::Try is a relatively new module (2016) which adds try and catch keywords to Perl. This solution comes after many many similar attempts. Finally, you can handle exceptions in Perl with the same syntax you would in other languages while enjoying performance comparable to plain eval. This is because under the hood, Syntax::Keyword::Try compiles down to pretty much the same thing as eval. It also has no dependencies.

While this module introduces new keywords to the language, it still plays nicely with perlcritic and perltidy.

This module requires XS and is only an option for users with Perl 5.16 and up (Windows users need Perl 5.22 and up).

See the tutorial on Handling exceptions with Syntax::Keyword::Try.


MetaCPAN: Try::Tiny::Tiny
++ rating: 0
Last update: 2017
Maintainer: ARISTOTLE

For many apps Try::Tiny's performance problem is not a big deal. In terms of CPAN its a bigger deal because anytime you need great performance you need to worry if your dependencies (or their dependencies) are using Try::Tiny in some critical part of your code.

Try::Tiny::Tiny is a module which improves the performance of Try::Tiny anywhere its loaded in your stack. My benchmarks showed performance went from 20.2 times slower than eval to 12.9 times slower than eval which is nearly an order of magnitude improvement.

Unlike the other modules reviewed here, Try::Tiny::Tiny isn't really intended as a replacement solution for die/eval. It's intended as a fix for dependencies that use Try::Tiny.


MetaCPAN: Try::Catch
++ rating: 6
Last update: 2016
Maintainer: MAMOD

Try::Catch is another attempt to improve on Try::Tiny. My benchmarks showed this module is 8.4 times slower than eval. This is also a new module (2017). The syntax matches try/catch/finally in other languages better than Try::Tiny. But its not as fast as Syntax::Keyword::Try and requires a semicolon at the end.


MetaCPAN: TryCatch
++ rating: 13
Last update: 2013
Maintainer: ASH

TryCatch has first class try/catch semantics and type checking on the catch block. My benchmarks showed this module has the same performance as Syntax::Keyword::Try. It never was never broadly adopted because its dependencies include Devel::Declare (see the warning) and Moose (lots of dependencies). It also lacks a finally block.



Raw stats

The code for generating these benchmarks is available here.

Syntax::Keyword::Try vs eval:

$ ./ 
              Rate  S:K:T    eval   no eval
S:K:T    2564103/s    --    -61%       -72%
eval     6578947/s  157%      --       -28%
no eval  9090909/s  255%     38%         --

TryCatch vs eval:

$  ./ 
            Rate   TryCatch  eval  no eval
TryCatch 2409639/s       --  -61%     -72%
eval     6250000/s     159%    --     -26%
no eval  8474576/s     252%   36%       --

Try::Catch vs eval:

$ ./ 
              Rate   T::C  eval  no eval
T::C      763359/s     --  -88%     -91%
eval     6410256/s   740%    --     -28%
no eval  8928571/s  1070%   39%       --

Try::Tiny::Tiny vs eval:

$ ./
              Rate  T:T:T  eval  no eval
T:T:T    505306/s      --  -92%     -94%
eval     6493506/s  1185%    --     -25%
no eval  8695652/s  1621%   34%       --

Try::Tiny vs eval:

$ ./                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                Rate  Try::Tiny  eval  no eval
Try::Tiny   310945/s         --  -95%     -96%
eval       6410256/s      1962%    --     -16%
no eval    7633588/s      2355%   19%       --