Bash – Assigning default values to shell variables with a single command in bash


I have a whole bunch of tests on variables in a bash (3.00) shell script where if the variable is not set, then it assigns a default, e.g.:

if [ -z "${VARIABLE}" ]; then 

I seem to recall there's some syntax to doing this in one line, something resembling a ternary operator, e.g.:

FOO=${ ${VARIABLE} : 'default' }

(though I know that won't work…)

Am I crazy, or does something like that exist?

Best Solution

Very close to what you posted, actually. You can use something called Bash parameter expansion to accomplish this.

To get the assigned value, or default if it's missing:

FOO="${VARIABLE:-default}"  # If variable not set or null, use default.
# If VARIABLE was unset or null, it still is after this (no assignment done).

Or to assign default to VARIABLE at the same time:

FOO="${VARIABLE:=default}"  # If variable not set or null, set it to default.