Modules (package)

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The package library provides basic facilities for loading and building modules in Lua. It exports two of its functions directly in the global environment: require and module. Everything else is exported in a table package.


module(name[, ...])

Creates a module. If there is a table in package.loaded[name], this table is the module. Otherwise, if there is a global table t with the given name, this table is the module. Otherwise creates a new table t and sets it as the value of the global name and the value of package.loaded[name]. This function also initializes t._NAME with the given name, t._M with the module (t itself), and t._PACKAGE with the package name (the full module name minus last component; see below). Finally, module sets t as the new environment of the current function and the new value of package.loaded[name], so that require returns t.

If name is a compound name (that is, one with components separated by dots), module creates (or reuses, if they already exist) tables for each component. For instance, if name is a.b.c, then module stores the module table in field c of field b of global a.

This function can receive optional options after the module name, where each option is a function to be applied over the module.



Loads the given module. The function starts by looking into the package.loaded table to determine whether modname is already loaded. If it is, then require returns the value stored at package.loaded[modname]. Otherwise, it tries to find a loader for the module.

To find a loader, require is guided by the package.loaders array. By changing this array, we can change how require looks for a module. The following explanation is based on the default configuration for package.loaders.

First require queries package.preload[modname]. If it has a value, this value (which should be a function) is the loader. Otherwise require searches for a Lua loader using the path stored in package.path. If that also fails, it searches for a C loader using the path stored in package.cpath. If that also fails, it tries an all-in-one loader (see package.loaders).

Once a loader is found, require calls the loader with a single argument, modname. If the loader returns any value, require assigns the returned value to package.loaded[modname]. If the loader returns no value and has not assigned any value to package.loaded[modname], then require assigns true to this entry. In any case, require returns the final value of package.loaded[modname].

If there is any error loading or running the module, or if it cannot find any loader for the module, then require signals an error.



The path used by require to search for a C loader.

Lua initializes the C path package.cpath in the same way it initializes the Lua path package.path, using the environment variable LUA_CPATH or a default path defined in luaconf.h.



A table used by require to control which modules are already loaded. When you require a module modname and package.loaded[modname] is not false, require simply returns the value stored there.



A table used by require to control how to load modules.

Each entry in this table is a searcher function. When looking for a module, require calls each of these searchers in ascending order, with the module name (the argument given to require) as its sole parameter. The function can return another function (the module loader) or a string explaining why it did not find that module (or nil if it has nothing to say). Lua initializes this table with four functions.

The first searcher simply looks for a loader in the package.preload table.

The second searcher looks for a loader as a Lua library, using the path stored at package.path. A path is a sequence of templates separated by semicolons. For each template, the searcher will change each interrogation mark in the template by filename, which is the module name with each dot replaced by a „directory separator“ (such as „/“ in Unix); then it will try to open the resulting file name. So, for instance, if the Lua path is the string


the search for a Lua file for module foo will try to open the files ./foo.lua, ./, and /usr/local/foo/init.lua, in that order.

The third searcher looks for a loader as a C library, using the path given by the variable package.cpath. For instance, if the C path is the string


the searcher for module foo will try to open the files ./, ./foo.dll, and /usr/local/foo/, in that order. Once it finds a C library, this searcher first uses a dynamic link facility to link the application with the library. Then it tries to find a C function inside the library to be used as the loader. The name of this C function is the string „luaopen_“ concatenated with a copy of the module name where each dot is replaced by an underscore. Moreover, if the module name has a hyphen, its prefix up to (and including) the first hyphen is removed. For instance, if the module name is a.v1-b.c, the function name will be luaopen_b_c.

The fourth searcher tries an all-in-one loader. It searches the C path for a library for the root name of the given module. For instance, when requiring a.b.c, it will search for a C library for a. If found, it looks into it for an open function for the submodule; in our example, that would be luaopen_a_b_c. With this facility, a package can pack several C submodules into one single library, with each submodule keeping its original open function.


package.loadlib(libname, funcname)

Dynamically links the host program with the C library libname. Inside this library, looks for a function funcname and returns this function as a C function. (So, funcname must follow the protocol.

This is a low-level function. It completely bypasses the package and module system. Unlike require, it does not perform any path searching and does not automatically adds extensions. libname must be the complete file name of the C library, including if necessary a path and extension. funcname must be the exact name exported by the C library (which may depend on the C compiler and linker used).

This function is not supported by ANSI C. As such, it is only available on some platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, BSD, plus other Unix systems that support the dlfcn standard).



The path used by require to search for a Lua loader.

At start-up, Lua initializes this variable with the value of the environment variable LUA_PATH or with a default path defined in luaconf.h, if the environment variable is not defined. Any „;;“ in the value of the environment variable is replaced by the default path.



A table to store loaders for specific modules (see require).



Sets a metatable for module with its __index field referring to the global environment, so that this module inherits values from the global environment. To be used as an option to function module.