4.17 Status of streams

wait_for_input(+ListOfStreams, -ReadyList, +TimeOut)
Wait for input on one of the streams in ListOfStreams and return a list of streams on which input is available in ReadyList. wait_for_input/3 waits for at most TimeOut seconds. Timeout may be specified as a floating point number to specify fractions of a second. If Timeout equals infinite, wait_for_input/3 waits indefinitely.43For compatibility reasons, a Timeout value of 0 (integer) also waits indefinitely. To call select() without giving up the CPU pass the float 0.0. If compatibility with versions older than 5.1.3 is desired pass the float value 1e-7.

This predicate can be used to implement timeout while reading and to handle input from multiple sources. The following example will wait for input from the user and an explicitly opened second terminal. On return, Inputs may hold user or P4 or both.

?- open('/dev/ttyp4', read, P4),
   wait_for_input([user, P4], Inputs, 0).

This predicate relies on the select() call on most operating systems. On Unix this call is implemented for any stream referring to a file-handle, which implies all OS-based streams: sockets, terminals, pipes, etc. On non-Unix systems select() is generally only implemented for socket-based streams. See also library(socket) from the clib package.

Note that wait_for_input/3 returns streams that have data waiting. This does not mean you can, for example, call read/2 on the stream without blocking as the stream might hold an incomplete term. The predicate set_stream/2 using the option timeout(Seconds) can be used to make the stream generate an exception if no new data arrives for within the timeout. Suppose two processes communicate by exchanging Prolog terms. The following code makes the server immune for clients that write an incomplete term:

        tcp_accept(Server, Socket, _Peer),
        tcp_open(Socket, In, Out),
        set_stream(In, timeout(10)),
        catch(read(In, Term), _, (close(Out), close(In), fail)),
byte_count(+Stream, -Count)
Byte-position in Stream. For binary streams this is the same as character_count/2. For text files the number may be different due to multi-byte encodings or additional record separators (such as Control-M in Windows).
character_count(+Stream, -Count)
Unify Count with the current character index. For input streams this is the number of characters read since the open, for output streams this is the number of characters written. Counting starts at 0.
line_count(+Stream, -Count)
Unify Count with the number of lines read or written. Counting starts at 1.
line_position(+Stream, -Count)
Unify Count with the position on the current line. Note that this assumes the position is 0 after the open. Tabs are assumed to be defined on each 8-th character and backspaces are assumed to reduce the count by one, provided it is positive.
fileerrors(-Old, +New)
Define error behaviour on errors when opening a file for reading or writing. Valid values are the atoms on (default) and off. First Old is unified with the current value. Then the new value is set to New.44Note that Edinburgh Prolog defines fileerrors/0 and nofileerrors/0. As this does not allow you to switch back to the old mode I think this definition is better.

With the introduction of exception-handling, it is advised to use catch/3 to catch possibly file-errors and act accordingly. Note that if fileerrors is off, no exception is generated.