9.2. Manipulating Strings

Bash supports a surprising number of string manipulation operations. Unfortunately, these tools lack a unified focus. Some are a subset of parameter substitution, and others fall under the functionality of the UNIX expr command. This results in inconsistent command syntax and overlap of functionality, not to mention confusion.

String Length

${#string}

expr length $string

These are the equivalent of strlen() in C.

expr "$string" : '.*'

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc echo ${#stringZ} # 15 echo `expr length $stringZ` # 15 echo `expr "$stringZ" : '.*'` # 15

Example 9-10. Inserting a blank line between paragraphs in a text file

#!/bin/bash # paragraph-space.sh # Inserts a blank line between paragraphs of a single-spaced text file. # Usage: $0 <FILENAME MINLEN=45 # May need to change this value. # Assume lines shorter than $MINLEN characters #+ terminate a paragraph. while read line # For as many lines as the input file has... do echo "$line" # Output the line itself. len=${#line} if [ "$len" -lt "$MINLEN" ] then echo # Add a blank line after short line. fi done exit 0

Length of Matching Substring at Beginning of String

expr match "$string" '$substring'

$substring is a regular expression.

expr "$string" : '$substring'

$substring is a regular expression.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # |------| echo `expr match "$stringZ" 'abc[A-Z]*.2'` # 8 echo `expr "$stringZ" : 'abc[A-Z]*.2'` # 8

Index

expr index $string $substring

Numerical position in $string of first character in $substring that matches.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc echo `expr index "$stringZ" C12` # 6 # C position. echo `expr index "$stringZ" 1c` # 3 # 'c' (in #3 position) matches before '1'.

This is the near equivalent of strchr() in C.

Substring Extraction

${string:position}

Extracts substring from $string at $position.

If the $string parameter is "*" or "@", then this extracts the positional parameters, [1] starting at $position.

${string:position:length}

Extracts $length characters of substring from $string at $position.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # 0123456789..... # 0-based indexing. echo ${stringZ:0} # abcABC123ABCabc echo ${stringZ:1} # bcABC123ABCabc echo ${stringZ:7} # 23ABCabc echo ${stringZ:7:3} # 23A # Three characters of substring. # Is it possible to index from the right end of the string? echo ${stringZ:-4} # abcABC123ABCabc # Defaults to full string, as in ${parameter:-default}. # However . . . echo ${stringZ:(-4)} # Cabc echo ${stringZ: -4} # Cabc # Now, it works. # Parentheses or added space "escape" the position parameter. # Thank you, Dan Jacobson, for pointing this out.

The position and length arguments can be "parameterized," that is, represented as a variable, rather than as a numerical constant.

Example 9-11. Generating an 8-character "random" string

#!/bin/bash # rand-string.sh # Generating an 8-character "random" string. if [ "-n $1" ] # If command line argument present, then #+ then set start-string to it. str0="$1" else # Else use PID of script as start-string. str0="$$" fi POS=2 # Starting from position 2 in the string. LEN=8 # Extract eight characters. str1=$( echo "$str0" | md5sum | md5sum ) # Doubly scramble: ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ randstring="${str1:$POS:$LEN}" # Can parameterize ^^^^ ^^^^ echo "$randstring" exit $? # bozo$ ./rand-string.sh my-password # 1bdd88c4 # No, this is is not recommended #+ as a method of generating hack-proof passwords.

If the $string parameter is "*" or "@", then this extracts a maximum of $length positional parameters, starting at $position.

echo ${*:2} # Echoes second and following positional parameters. echo ${@:2} # Same as above. echo ${*:2:3} # Echoes three positional parameters, starting at second.

expr substr $string $position $length

Extracts $length characters from $string starting at $position.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # 123456789...... # 1-based indexing. echo `expr substr $stringZ 1 2` # ab echo `expr substr $stringZ 4 3` # ABC

expr match "$string" '\($substring\)'

Extracts $substring at beginning of $string, where $substring is a regular expression.

expr "$string" : '\($substring\)'

Extracts $substring at beginning of $string, where $substring is a regular expression.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # ======= echo `expr match "$stringZ" '\(.[b-c]*[A-Z]..[0-9]\)'` # abcABC1 echo `expr "$stringZ" : '\(.[b-c]*[A-Z]..[0-9]\)'` # abcABC1 echo `expr "$stringZ" : '\(.......\)'` # abcABC1 # All of the above forms give an identical result.

expr match "$string" '.*\($substring\)'

Extracts $substring at end of $string, where $substring is a regular expression.

expr "$string" : '.*\($substring\)'

Extracts $substring at end of $string, where $substring is a regular expression.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # ====== echo `expr match "$stringZ" '.*\([A-C][A-C][A-C][a-c]*\)'` # ABCabc echo `expr "$stringZ" : '.*\(......\)'` # ABCabc

Substring Removal

${string#substring}

Deletes shortest match of $substring from front of $string.

${string##substring}

Deletes longest match of $substring from front of $string.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # |----| shortest # |----------| longest echo ${stringZ#a*C} # 123ABCabc # Strip out shortest match between 'a' and 'C'. echo ${stringZ##a*C} # abc # Strip out longest match between 'a' and 'C'.

${string%substring}

Deletes shortest match of $substring from back of $string.

For example:
# Rename all filenames in $PWD with "TXT" suffix to a "txt" suffix. # For example, "file1.TXT" becomes "file1.txt" . . . SUFF=TXT suff=txt for i in $(ls *.$SUFF) do mv -f $i ${i%.$SUFF}.$suff # Leave unchanged everything *except* the shortest pattern match #+ starting from the right-hand-side of the variable $i . . . done ### This could be condensed into a "one-liner" if desired. # Thank you, Rory Winston.

${string%%substring}

Deletes longest match of $substring from back of $string.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc # || shortest # |------------| longest echo ${stringZ%b*c} # abcABC123ABCa # Strip out shortest match between 'b' and 'c', from back of $stringZ. echo ${stringZ%%b*c} # a # Strip out longest match between 'b' and 'c', from back of $stringZ.

This operator is useful for generating filenames.

Example 9-12. Converting graphic file formats, with filename change

#!/bin/bash # cvt.sh: # Converts all the MacPaint image files in a directory to "pbm" format. # Uses the "macptopbm" binary from the "netpbm" package, #+ which is maintained by Brian Henderson (bryanh@giraffe-data.com). # Netpbm is a standard part of most Linux distros. OPERATION=macptopbm SUFFIX=pbm # New filename suffix. if [ -n "$1" ] then directory=$1 # If directory name given as a script argument... else directory=$PWD # Otherwise use current working directory. fi # Assumes all files in the target directory are MacPaint image files, #+ with a ".mac" filename suffix. for file in $directory/* # Filename globbing. do filename=${file%.*c} # Strip ".mac" suffix off filename #+ ('.*c' matches everything #+ between '.' and 'c', inclusive). $OPERATION $file > "$filename.$SUFFIX" # Redirect conversion to new filename. rm -f $file # Delete original files after converting. echo "$filename.$SUFFIX" # Log what is happening to stdout. done exit 0 # Exercise: # -------- # As it stands, this script converts *all* the files in the current #+ working directory. # Modify it to work *only* on files with a ".mac" suffix.

Example 9-13. Converting streaming audio files to ogg

#!/bin/bash # ra2ogg.sh: Convert streaming audio files (*.ra) to ogg. # Uses the "mplayer" media player program: # http://www.mplayerhq.hu/homepage # Appropriate codecs may need to be installed for this script to work. # Uses the "ogg" library and "oggenc": # http://www.xiph.org/ OFILEPREF=${1%%ra} # Strip off the "ra" suffix. OFILESUFF=wav # Suffix for wav file. OUTFILE="$OFILEPREF""$OFILESUFF" E_NOARGS=65 if [ -z "$1" ] # Must specify a filename to convert. then echo "Usage: `basename $0` [filename]" exit $E_NOARGS fi ########################################################################## mplayer "$1" -ao pcm:file=$OUTFILE oggenc "$OUTFILE" # Correct file extension automatically added by oggenc. ########################################################################## rm "$OUTFILE" # Delete intermediate *.wav file. # If you want to keep it, comment out above line. exit $? # Note: # ---- # On a Website, simply clicking on a *.ram streaming audio file #+ usually only downloads the URL of the actual audio file, the *.ra file. # You can then use "wget" or something similar #+ to download the *.ra file itself. # Exercises: # --------- # As is, this script converts only *.ra filenames. # Add flexibility by permitting use of *.ram and other filenames. # # If you're really ambitious, expand the script #+ to do automatic downloads and conversions of streaming audio files. # Given a URL, batch download streaming audio files (using "wget") #+ and convert them.

A simple emulation of getopt using substring-extraction constructs.

Example 9-14. Emulating getopt

#!/bin/bash # getopt-simple.sh # Author: Chris Morgan # Used in the ABS Guide with permission. getopt_simple() { echo "getopt_simple()" echo "Parameters are '$*'" until [ -z "$1" ] do echo "Processing parameter of: '$1'" if [ ${1:0:1} = '/' ] then tmp=${1:1} # Strip off leading '/' . . . parameter=${tmp%%=*} # Extract name. value=${tmp##*=} # Extract value. echo "Parameter: '$parameter', value: '$value'" eval $parameter=$value fi shift done } # Pass all options to getopt_simple(). getopt_simple $* echo "test is '$test'" echo "test2 is '$test2'" exit 0 # See also, UseGetOpt.sh, a modified versio of this script. --- sh getopt_example.sh /test=value1 /test2=value2 Parameters are '/test=value1 /test2=value2' Processing parameter of: '/test=value1' Parameter: 'test', value: 'value1' Processing parameter of: '/test2=value2' Parameter: 'test2', value: 'value2' test is 'value1' test2 is 'value2'

Substring Replacement

${string/substring/replacement}

Replace first match of $substring with $replacement.

${string//substring/replacement}

Replace all matches of $substring with $replacement.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc echo ${stringZ/abc/xyz} # xyzABC123ABCabc # Replaces first match of 'abc' with 'xyz'. echo ${stringZ//abc/xyz} # xyzABC123ABCxyz # Replaces all matches of 'abc' with # 'xyz'.

${string/#substring/replacement}

If $substring matches front end of $string, substitute $replacement for $substring.

${string/%substring/replacement}

If $substring matches back end of $string, substitute $replacement for $substring.

stringZ=abcABC123ABCabc echo ${stringZ/#abc/XYZ} # XYZABC123ABCabc # Replaces front-end match of 'abc' with 'XYZ'. echo ${stringZ/%abc/XYZ} # abcABC123ABCXYZ # Replaces back-end match of 'abc' with 'XYZ'.

9.2.1. Manipulating strings using awk

A Bash script may invoke the string manipulation facilities of awk as an alternative to using its built-in operations.

Example 9-15. Alternate ways of extracting substrings

#!/bin/bash # substring-extraction.sh String=23skidoo1 # 012345678 Bash # 123456789 awk # Note different string indexing system: # Bash numbers first character of string as 0. # Awk numbers first character of string as 1. echo ${String:2:4} # position 3 (0-1-2), 4 characters long # skid # The awk equivalent of ${string:pos:length} is substr(string,pos,length). echo | awk ' { print substr("'"${String}"'",3,4) # skid } ' # Piping an empty "echo" to awk gives it dummy input, #+ and thus makes it unnecessary to supply a filename. exit 0

9.2.2. Further Reference

For more on string manipulation in scripts, refer to Section 9.3 and the relevant section of the expr command listing.

Script examples:

  1. Example 15-9

  2. Example 9-18

  3. Example 9-19

  4. Example 9-20

  5. Example 9-22

  6. Example A-38

  7. Example A-43

Notes

[1]

This applies to either command-line arguments or parameters passed to a function.