Prototype: ifelse(...)

Return type: string

Description: Evaluate each pair of arguments up to the last one as a (class, value) tuple, returning value if class is set.

If none are set, returns the last argument.


The ifelse function is like a multi-level if-else statement.It was inspired by Oracle's DECODE function. It must have an odd number of arguments (from 1 to N). The last argument is the default value, like the else clause in standard programming languages. Every pair of arguments before the last one are evaluated as a pair. If the first one evaluates true (as if you had used it in a class expression, so it can be more than just a class name, it's a whole context like Tuesday.linux.!verbose) then the second one is returned.

Generally, if ifelse were called with arguments (a1, a2, b1, b2, c), the behavior expressed as pseudo-code is:

    if a1 then return a2
    else-if b1 then return b2
    else return c

(But again, note that any odd number of arguments is supported.)

The ifelse function is extremely useful when you want to avoid explicitly stating the negative of all the expected cases; this problem is commonly seen like so:

      "myvar" string => "x";

      "myvar" string => "y";

      "myvar" string => "z";

That's hard to read and error-prone (do you know how class2 will affect the default case?). Here's the alternative with ifelse:

    "myvar" string => ifelse("class1.class2", "x",
                             "class3.!class2", "y",


bundle agent example
      "myclass" expression => "any";
      "myclass2" expression => "any";
      "secondpass" expression => "any";
      # we need to use the secondpass class because on the first pass,
      # myclass and myclass2 are not defined yet


      # result: { "1", "single string parameter", "hardclass OK", "bundle class OK", "5 parameters OK" }

      "mylist" slist => {
                          ifelse("single string parameter"),
                          ifelse("cfengine", "hardclass OK", "hardclass broken"),
                          ifelse("myclass.myclass2", "bundle class OK", "bundle class broken"),
                          ifelse("this is not true", "5 parameters broken",
                                 "this is also not true", "5 parameters broken 2",
                                 "5 parameters OK"),

      "ifelse result list: $(mylist)";