Skip to main content


Laurence MorganAbout 4 min


Define an environmental variable and set it's value


Defines, updates or deallocates an environmental variable.


<stdin> -> export var_name

export var_name=data


As a method:

» out "Hello, world!" -> export hw
» out "$hw"
Hello, World!

As a function:

» export hw="Hello, world!"
» out "$hw"
Hello, World!



You can unset variable names with the bang prefix:

!export var_name

For compatibility with other shells, unset is also supported but it's really not an idiomatic method of deallocation since it's name is misleading and suggests it is a deallocator for local Murex variables defined via set.

Exporting a local or global variable

You can also export a local or global variable of the same name by specifying that variable name without a following value. For example

# Create a local variable called 'foo':
» set foo=bar
» env -> grep: foo

# Export that local variable as an environmental variable:
» export: foo
» env -> grep: foo

# Changing the value of the local variable doesn't alter the value of the environmental variable:
» set foo=rab
» env -> grep: foo
» out $foo

Type Annotations

When set or global are used as a function, the parameters are passed as a string which means the variables are defined as a str. If you wish to define them as an alternate data type then you should add type annotations:

» set int age = 30

($age is an integer, int)

» global bool dark_theme = true

($dark_theme is a boolean, bool)

When using set or global as a method, by default they will define the variable as the data type of the pipe:

» open example.json -> set: file

($file is defined a json type because open wrote to set's pipe with a json type)

You can also annotate set and global when used as a method too:

out 30 -> set: int age

($age is an integer, int, despite out writing a string, `str, to the pipe)

export does not support type annotations because environmental variables must always be strings. This is a limitation of the current operating systems.


Variable scoping is simplified to three layers:

  1. Local variables (set, !set, let)
  2. Global variables (global, !global)
  3. Environmental variables (export, !export, unset)

Variables are looked up in that order of too. For example a the following code where set overrides both the global and environmental variable:

» set    foobar=1
» global foobar=2
» export foobar=3
» out $foobar

Local variables

These are defined via set and let. They're variables that are persistent across any blocks within a function. Functions will typically be blocks encapsulated like so:

function example {
    # variables scoped inside here


private example {
    # variables scoped inside here

...however dynamic autocompletes, events, unit tests and any blocks defined in config will also be triggered as functions.

Code running inside any control flow or error handing structures will be treated as part of the same part of the same scope as the parent function:

» function example {
»     try {
»         # set 'foobar' inside a `try` block
»         set foobar=example
»     }
»     # 'foobar' exists outside of `try` because it is scoped to `function`
»     out $foobar
» }

Where this behavior might catch you out is with iteration blocks which create variables, eg for, foreach and formap. Any variables created inside them are still shared with any code outside of those structures but still inside the function block.

Any local variables are only available to that function. If a variable is defined in a parent function that goes on to call child functions, then those local variables are not inherited but the child functions:

» function parent {
»     # set a local variable
»     set foobar=example
»     child
» }
» function child {
»     # returns the `global` value, "not set", because the local `set` isn't inherited
»     out $foobar
» }
» global $foobar="not set"
» parent
not set

It's also worth remembering that any variable defined using set in the shells FID (ie in the interactive shell) is localised to structures running in the interactive, REPL, shell and are not inherited by any called functions.

Global variables

Where global differs from set is that the variables defined with global will be scoped at the global shell level (please note this is not the same as environmental variables!) so will cascade down through all scoped code-blocks including those running in other threads.

Environmental variables

Exported variables (defined via export) are system environmental variables. Inside Murex environmental variables behave much like global variables however their real purpose is passing data to external processes. For example env is an external process on Linux (eg /usr/bin/env on ArchLinux):

» export foo=bar
» env -> grep foo

Function Names

As a security feature function names cannot include variables. This is done to reduce the risk of code executing by mistake due to executables being hidden behind variable names.

Instead Murex will assume you want the output of the variable printed:

» out "Hello, world!" -> set hw
» $hw
Hello, world!

On the rare occasions you want to force variables to be expanded inside a function name, then call that function via exec:

» set cmd=grep
» ls -> exec $cmd main.go

This only works for external executables. There is currently no way to call aliases, functions nor builtins from a variable and even the above exec trick is considered bad form because it reduces the readability of your shell scripts.

Usage Inside Quotation Marks

Like with Bash, Perl and PHP: Murex will expand the variable when it is used inside a double quotes but will escape the variable name when used inside single quotes:

» out "$foo"

» out '$foo'

» out %($foo)


  • export
  • !export
  • unset

See Also

This document was generated from builtins/core/typemgmt/variables_doc.yamlopen in new window.

Last update:
Contributors: Laurence Morgan,Laurence Morgan,Laurence,Olivier Refalo