The VBScript Network and Systems Administrator's Cafe

Mar 12 2008   5:38PM GMT

Use of option explicit and the DIM statement in VBSCRIPT.

Jerry Lees Jerry Lees Profile: Jerry Lees


As an answer to the extra credit portion of my posting a few days ago:

DIM in a script declares a variable to be used. It just simply creates the variable, nothing more. By default, vbscript will create variables on the fly for you as you use them the first time you use them.

There are other ways to create a variable as well, but create specific types of variables. Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head.

Const  – creates a Constant Variable, while it may seem line an oxymoron, they are sometimes very useful rather than risking typing a long value over and over again. Consider these examples Please note, they are abbreviated here for display purposes— please do not use them in code to launch a rocket to Mars 😉 .

Const Pi = 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230 ‘ Pi
Const GC = 0.62432998854355087099293638310083724417964262018052 ‘ The Golomb Constant
Const AC = 0.37395581361920228805472805434641641511162924860615  ‘ Artins Constant

By doing this we can type this in our code: 

Answer = Pi * GC * AC

Instead of:

Answer = 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230 * 0.62432998854355087099293638310083724417964262018052 * 0.37395581361920228805472805434641641511162924860615

And just imagine the mistakes we’d make if we had to type it a bunch of times!

Also there is This command:

Redim  – used to create a single or multi-dimensional array.

For example:

Redim StudentQuarterlyGrades(4) ‘ single dimensional array for grades for a student
Redim ClassQuarterlyGrades(4,13) ‘ a multidimensional array for quarterly grades for a class of 13

Enough of that tangent of extra information! The last  extra credit item was:

option explicit, which forces the writer of a script to declare their variables before they use them.

This can be very valuable and a huge time saver– though it requires a little extra work on the from side declaring variables before you use them. In fact, most programming languages, like c/c++, java, and others, require you to declare the variables prior to use as well as decalre what kind of value you will be putting in them.

Consider this code, without using OPTION EXPLICIT:

StudentFinalGrade = 100
StudentHomeworkGrade = 100

StudentCourseGrade = ((StudentFialnGrade + StudentHomeworkGrade)/200)*100

Do you see the problem? I spelled final wrong in the last line StudentFialnGrade.

Some poor student will get a F (50%), instead of an A (100%) because of that mistake. However, The same code with option explicit and proper DIM statements below (yes, you can declare multiple variables on one line with a comma):

Option Explicit
Dim StudentFinalGrade, StudentHomeworkGrade

StudentFinalGrade = 100
StudentHomeworkGrade = 100

StudentCourseGrade = ((StudentFialnGrade + StudentHomeworkGrade)/200)*100

Yields the following error, pointing to the line and the variable that is either misspelled or not decalred:

… Untitled4.vbs(7, 1) Microsoft VBScript runtime error: Variable is undefined: ‘StudentFialnGrade’

Notice how easy that is. Trust me on this. Get into the habit of starting every script with option explicit and using DIM to declare your variables… while it may not matter for 20 -40 line scripts, you will notice it in 100 or 1000 line scripts– and wish you had done it when you spend several hours tracing down why a calculation or string value is coming out differently than you expected!

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