In most of the cases when we iterate over the elements of a hash we use the keys function. At least that's my preferred method.

However, sometimes, epecially when the hash is big, we migh prefer to use the each function.

The use of each looks like this:

examples/each.pl

use 5.010;
use strict;
use warnings;

my %h = ( abc => 23, def => 19 );

while (my ($k, $v) = each %h) {
	say "$k  => $v";
}

On each iteration it fetches one of the key-value pairs and in this example we assign them to $k and $v respectively.

There result is

abc  => 23
def  => 19

The actual order among the pairs is unpredictable. If you run the above code several times you will see the order changes.

Each without a loop

While the most common use of each is in a loop, we can also use it stand-alone. In this example we call each outside of a loop:

examples/loopless_each.pl

use strict;
use warnings;
use 5.010;

my %h = ( abc => 23, def => 19 );

say 'One';
my ($k1, $v1) = each %h;
say "$k1  => $v1";

say 'Two';
my ($k2, $v2) = each %h;
say "$k2  => $v2";

say 'Three';
my ($k3, $v3) = each %h;
say "$k3  => $v3";

say 'Four';
my ($k4, $v4) = each %h;
say "$k4  => $v4";


Looking at the output you can see that the first two calls were successful and we got the two pairs of data. The 3rd call to each, however, comes after the content of the hash was exhausted and thus the 3rd call returns undef to both key and value.

The fourth call to each starts iterating over the pairs again.

One
abc  => 23
Two
def  => 19
Three
Use of uninitialized value $k3 in concatenation (.) or string at examples/loopless_each.pl line 17.
Use of uninitialized value $v3 in concatenation (.) or string at examples/loopless_each.pl line 17.
  =>
Four
abc  => 23

Use of each() on hash after insertion without resetting hash iterator results in undefined behavior

examples/each_disaster.pl

use 5.010;
use strict;
use warnings;

my %h = ( abc => 23, def => 19 );

while (my ($k, $v) = each %h) {
	say "$k  => $v";
	if ($k eq 'abc') {
		$h{answer} = 42;
	}
}

Unlike when we use keys, when we use each we must not change the hash in any way. In the above code we adde a new key-value pair while we were iterating over the hash. I ran the above code several times and each time I ran it I got a different output:

abc  => 23
Use of each() on hash after insertion without resetting hash iterator results in undefined behavior,
  Perl interpreter: ..
answer  => 42
def  => 19

abc  => 23
Use of each() on hash after insertion without resetting hash iterator results in undefined behavior,
  Perl interpreter: ..

abc  => 23
Use of each() on hash after insertion without resetting hash iterator results in undefined behavior,
  Perl interpreter: ..
abc  => 23
answer  => 42
def  => 19

So you should never change a hash while iterating over it using each.