URL globbing

At times you want to get a range of URLs that are mostly the same, with only a
small portion of it changing between the requests. Maybe it is a numeric range
or maybe a set of names. curl offers “globbing” as a way to specify many URLs
like that easily.

The globbing uses the reserved symbols [] and {} for this, symbols that
normally cannot be part of a legal URL (except for numerical IPv6 addresses
but curl handles them fine anyway). If the globbing gets in your way, disable
it with -g, --globoff.

While most transfer related functionality in curl is provided by the libcurl
library, the URL globbing feature is not!

Numerical ranges

You can ask for a numerical range with [N-M] syntax, where N is the start
index and it goes up to and including M. For example, you can ask for 100
images one by one that are named numerically:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/[1-100].png

and it can even do the ranges with zero prefixes, like if the number is
three digits all the time:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/[001-100].png

Or maybe you only want even numbered images so you tell curl a step counter
too. This example range goes from 0 to 100 with an increment of 2:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/[0-100:2].png

Alphabetical ranges

curl can also do alphabetical ranges, like when a site has sections named a
to z:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/section[a-z].html

A list

Sometimes the parts don’t follow such an easy pattern, and then you can
instead give the full list yourself but then within the curly braces instead
of the brackets used for the ranges:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/{one,two,three,alpha,beta}.html


You can use several globs in the same URL which then will make curl iterate
over those, too. To download the images of Ben, Alice and Frank, in both the
resolutions 100x100 and 1000x1000, a command line could look like:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/{Ben,Alice,Frank}-{100x100,1000x1000}.jpg

Or download all the images of a chess board, indexed by two coordinates ranged
0 to 7:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/chess-[0-7]x[0-7].jpg

And you can, of course, mix ranges and series. Get a week’s worth of logs for
both the web server and the mail server:

  1. curl -O http://example.com/{web,mail}-log[0-6].txt

Output variables for globbing

In all the globbing examples previously in this chapter we have selected to
use the -O / --remote-name option, which makes curl save the target file
using the file name part of the used URL.

Sometimes that is not enough. You are downloading multiple files and maybe you
want to save them in a different subdirectory or create the saved file names
differently. curl, of course, has a solution for these situations as well:
output file name variables.

Each “glob” used in a URL gets a separate variable. They are referenced as
‘#[num]’ - that means the single letter ‘#’ followed by the glob number which
starts with 1 for the first glob and ends with the last glob.

Save the main pages of two different sites:

  1. curl http://{one,two}.example.com -o "file_#1.txt"

Save the outputs from a command line with two globs in a subdirectory;

  1. curl http://{site,host}.host[1-5].example.com -o "subdir/#1_#2"