functions in different files

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Mads on 1 Sep 2016
Commented: Mads on 2 Sep 2016
Here is one...
I have a main()-function in main.m, and the file includes a subfunction()-function, like:
function main
b = subfunction(c);
f = external(c);
function b = subfunction(c)
b = c^2;
and I have an external()-function in external.m, like
function d = external(e)
d = subfunction(e)*2;
I would like to keep the external()-function in this separate file, but I would like it to be able to use sub-functions in the main file. Now I would have expected, since the main.m is initiated that all subfunctions within it was then "declared" globally, but it turns out that the external function can't call the subfunction, even if it has been called before the external function calls it.
Is there a work-around?
Why? I share the main() with other users, and develop the external() until some point of sharing. Until then I would like to keep it private, but still being able to exploit subfunctions. Alternatively I would need to copy all subfunctions in main() that I need into the external.m or into separate files... But when I share stuff, it is sometimes nice not to send hundreds of files around...

Accepted Answer

Mads on 2 Sep 2016
I found a work-around!!
Might be useful to others.
I give the main script an input variable, say 'Fun'. And, say, if Fun=[] then the main() is run as it would be without this trick. Alternatively if main() is called with Fun='test' then main() bypasses its ordinary job and instead runs an "eval('strings = Fun(varargin)')" you know with the correct setting of this string.
So now I can run my external script even from within the main-file and the external script can call functions written inside the main-file.
function Out = main(Fun,In,varargin)
if isempty(Fun)
if ~isempty(varargin)
str = 'varargin{1}';
for n = 2:nargin-2
str = [str,',varargin{',num2str(n),'}'];
eval(sprintf('Out = %s(%s);',Fun,str))
eval(sprintf('Out = %s;',Fun))
function a = test(b)
a = b^2;
Mads on 2 Sep 2016
Sure. It was a work around and I didn't know about str2func. It is more elegant. Both ways however solve my problem but I will of course continue with the nicer one.

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More Answers (2)

Adam on 1 Sep 2016
Edited: Adam on 2 Sep 2016
Sub-functions have file scope. If you want functions to be seen publicly they either need to be each in their own file or they need to be public methods on a class.
Calling the main function of a file has no bearing on external functions suddenly being able to access the local functions of that file - they are effectively like private functions of a class that don't suddenly get exposed when you start using the class.
You can make use of package folders to group functions, but they still need to be in their own file. You can also zip up folders to send them, of course, rather than sending a load of .m files as they are.

Steven Lord
Steven Lord on 2 Sep 2016
Consider making the subfunction a private function instead of a subfunction. This will prevent arbitrary functions from calling it while still making it accessible to the functions in the directory containing the private subdirectory.
  1 Comment
Mads on 2 Sep 2016
Not sure if this would solve my original request of avoiding many directories and files, but can't say I fully understand what you suggest. I'm open to the suggestion though.

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