Problem passing file names with embedded space to Windows executable via bash function

JJ Ottusch
Fri Jun 26 19:06:00 GMT 2015

I am trying to define a function in my '.bash_profile' that takes a file or 
list of files as an argument and passes the list to a Windows executable 
after converting all the filenames to full path filenames with 'cygpath'. 

The whole point of the function is to use 'cygpath' to put the filenames in a 
Windows compatible format for me so I don't have to do it every time I call 
the Windows executable from a CYGWIN term.

My function works fine except in cases where any part of the path or filename 
contains a space. In that case the list of arguments the Windows executable 
sees is incorrectly broken apart by the embedded spaces. I can verify this by 
looking at argc.

Here are some examples with comments. All commands run from 
'/cygdrive/c/Temp/Part1\ Part2/' in a CYGWIN RXVT term.

Let the windows executable be named 'oglv64' and start with the usual
	int main(int argc, char** argv)
Let there be two files it can take as arguments named 'file1' and 'file2' in 
the directory '/cygdrive/c/Temp/Part1 Part2', where 'Part1 Part2' is a 
subdirectory name with an embedded space. Let the defined function be named 

1. Show the files

$ dir /cygdrive/c/Temp/Part1\ Part2/
file1*  file2*

2. Test the function with 'echo' instead of 'oglv64'. 'cygpath' works 
correctly on each file, but there is a bare space between 'Part1' and 'Part2' 
which can be expected to cause problems with 'oglv64'.

$ foo() { echo `cygpath -am "$@"` ; }; foo file*
C:/Temp/Part1 Part2/file1 C:/Temp/Part1 Part2/file2

3. So, escape the space. Looks good.

$ foo() { echo `cygpath -am "$@" | sed 's/ /\\\ /'` ; }; foo file*
C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file1 C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file2

4. Although I can't show it, the Window executable works exactly as desired 
when given the above line as its input. argc=3 and 'oglv64' operates on the 
two files as desired.

$ oglv64 C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file1 C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file2

5. Now try this inside the function definition. As shown below, this didn't 
work. argc=5 instead of 3.

$ foo() { oglv64 `cygpath -am "$@" | sed 's/ /\\\ /'` ; }; foo file*
Can't load C:/Temp/Part1\.
Can't load Part2/file1.
Can't load C:/Temp/Part1\.
Can't load Part2/file2.

6. Put the full argument in quotes and try again. The 'echo' result is 
correct, but given on two separate lines. However, the Windows executable 
sees argc=2 and thinks it's all one long filename. Wrong, as expected.

$ foo() { echo "`cygpath -am \"$@\" | sed 's/ /\\\ /'`" ; }; foo file*
C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file1
C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file2

$ foo() { oglv64 "`cygpath -am \"$@\" | sed 's/ /\\\ /'`" ; }; foo file*
Can't load C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file1
C:/Temp/Part1\ Part2/file2.

7. Drop the escaped space and try forcing quotes at the end of each 'cygpath' 
result. Looks fine with 'echo', but the Windows executable still sees argc=5 
rather than argc=3.

$ foo() { echo `cygpath -am "$@" | sed 's/^/\"/;s/$/\"/'` ; }; foo file*
"C:/Temp/Part1 Part2/file1" "C:/Temp/Part1 Part2/file2"

$ foo() { oglv64 `cygpath -am "$@" | sed 's/^/\"/;s/$/\"/'` ; }; foo file*
Can't load "C:/Temp/Part1.
Can't load Part2/file1".
Can't load "C:/Temp/Part1.
Can't load Part2/file2".

8 On the other hand, using the output from 'echo' as a direct argument to 
'oglv64' works fine.

$ oglv64 "C:/Temp/Part1 Part2/file1" "C:/Temp/Part1 Part2/file2"

No success so far. I am looking to find a simple solution to this problem 
(other than eliminating spaces from all file/directory names). It would have 
multiple applications.


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