[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9. Operating on characters

This commands operate on individual characters.


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9.1 tr: Translate, squeeze, and/or delete characters

Synopsis:

 
tr [option]… set1 [set2]

tr copies standard input to standard output, performing one of the following operations:

The set1 and (if given) set2 arguments define ordered sets of characters, referred to below as set1 and set2. These sets are the characters of the input that tr operates on. The `--complement' (`-c', `-C') option replaces set1 with its complement (all of the characters that are not in set1).

Currently tr fully supports only single-byte characters. Eventually it will support multibyte characters; when it does, the `-C' option will cause it to complement the set of characters, whereas `-c' will cause it to complement the set of values. This distinction will matter only when some values are not characters, and this is possible only in locales using multibyte encodings when the input contains encoding errors.

The program accepts the `--help' and `--version' options. See section Common options. Options must precede operands.

An exit status of zero indicates success, and a nonzero value indicates failure.


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9.1.1 Specifying sets of characters

The format of the set1 and set2 arguments resembles the format of regular expressions; however, they are not regular expressions, only lists of characters. Most characters simply represent themselves in these strings, but the strings can contain the shorthands listed below, for convenience. Some of them can be used only in set1 or set2, as noted below.

Backslash escapes

The following backslash escape sequences are recognized:

`\a'

Control-G.

`\b'

Control-H.

`\f'

Control-L.

`\n'

Control-J.

`\r'

Control-M.

`\t'

Control-I.

`\v'

Control-K.

`\ooo'

The character with the value given by ooo, which is 1 to 3 octal digits,

`\\'

A backslash.

While a backslash followed by a character not listed above is interpreted as that character, the backslash also effectively removes any special significance, so it is useful to escape `[', `]', `*', and `-'.

Ranges

The notation `m-n' expands to all of the characters from m through n, in ascending order. m should collate before n; if it doesn't, an error results. As an example, `0-9' is the same as `0123456789'.

GNU tr does not support the System V syntax that uses square brackets to enclose ranges. Translations specified in that format sometimes work as expected, since the brackets are often transliterated to themselves. However, they should be avoided because they sometimes behave unexpectedly. For example, `tr -d '[0-9]'' deletes brackets as well as digits.

Many historically common and even accepted uses of ranges are not portable. For example, on EBCDIC hosts using the `A-Z' range will not do what most would expect because `A' through `Z' are not contiguous as they are in ASCII. If you can rely on a POSIX compliant version of tr, then the best way to work around this is to use character classes (see below). Otherwise, it is most portable (and most ugly) to enumerate the members of the ranges.

Repeated characters

The notation `[c*n]' in set2 expands to n copies of character c. Thus, `[y*6]' is the same as `yyyyyy'. The notation `[c*]' in string2 expands to as many copies of c as are needed to make set2 as long as set1. If n begins with `0', it is interpreted in octal, otherwise in decimal.

Character classes

The notation `[:class:]' expands to all of the characters in the (predefined) class class. The characters expand in no particular order, except for the upper and lower classes, which expand in ascending order. When the `--delete' (`-d') and `--squeeze-repeats' (`-s') options are both given, any character class can be used in set2. Otherwise, only the character classes lower and upper are accepted in set2, and then only if the corresponding character class (upper and lower, respectively) is specified in the same relative position in set1. Doing this specifies case conversion. The class names are given below; an error results when an invalid class name is given.

alnum

Letters and digits.

alpha

Letters.

blank

Horizontal whitespace.

cntrl

Control characters.

digit

Digits.

graph

Printable characters, not including space.

lower

Lowercase letters.

print

Printable characters, including space.

punct

Punctuation characters.

space

Horizontal or vertical whitespace.

upper

Uppercase letters.

xdigit

Hexadecimal digits.

Equivalence classes

The syntax `[=c=]' expands to all of the characters that are equivalent to c, in no particular order. Equivalence classes are a relatively recent invention intended to support non-English alphabets. But there seems to be no standard way to define them or determine their contents. Therefore, they are not fully implemented in GNU tr; each character's equivalence class consists only of that character, which is of no particular use.


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9.1.2 Translating

tr performs translation when set1 and set2 are both given and the `--delete' (`-d') option is not given. tr translates each character of its input that is in set1 to the corresponding character in set2. Characters not in set1 are passed through unchanged. When a character appears more than once in set1 and the corresponding characters in set2 are not all the same, only the final one is used. For example, these two commands are equivalent:

 
tr aaa xyz
tr a z

A common use of tr is to convert lowercase characters to uppercase. This can be done in many ways. Here are three of them:

 
tr abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
tr a-z A-Z
tr '[:lower:]' '[:upper:]'

But note that using ranges like a-z above is not portable.

When tr is performing translation, set1 and set2 typically have the same length. If set1 is shorter than set2, the extra characters at the end of set2 are ignored.

On the other hand, making set1 longer than set2 is not portable; POSIX says that the result is undefined. In this situation, BSD tr pads set2 to the length of set1 by repeating the last character of set2 as many times as necessary. System V tr truncates set1 to the length of set2.

By default, GNU tr handles this case like BSD tr. When the `--truncate-set1' (`-t') option is given, GNU tr handles this case like the System V tr instead. This option is ignored for operations other than translation.

Acting like System V tr in this case breaks the relatively common BSD idiom:

 
tr -cs A-Za-z0-9 '\012'

because it converts only zero bytes (the first element in the complement of set1), rather than all non-alphanumerics, to newlines.

By the way, the above idiom is not portable because it uses ranges, and it assumes that the octal code for newline is 012. Assuming a POSIX compliant tr, here is a better way to write it:

 
tr -cs '[:alnum:]' '[\n*]'

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9.1.3 Squeezing repeats and deleting

When given just the `--delete' (`-d') option, tr removes any input characters that are in set1.

When given just the `--squeeze-repeats' (`-s') option, tr replaces each input sequence of a repeated character that is in set1 with a single occurrence of that character.

When given both `--delete' and `--squeeze-repeats', tr first performs any deletions using set1, then squeezes repeats from any remaining characters using set2.

The `--squeeze-repeats' option may also be used when translating, in which case tr first performs translation, then squeezes repeats from any remaining characters using set2.

Here are some examples to illustrate various combinations of options:


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9.2 expand: Convert tabs to spaces

expand writes the contents of each given file, or standard input if none are given or for a file of `-', to standard output, with tab characters converted to the appropriate number of spaces. Synopsis:

 
expand [option]… [file]…

By default, expand converts all tabs to spaces. It preserves backspace characters in the output; they decrement the column count for tab calculations. The default action is equivalent to `-t 8' (set tabs every 8 columns).

The program accepts the following options. Also see Common options.

`-t tab1[,tab2]…'
`--tabs=tab1[,tab2]…'

If only one tab stop is given, set the tabs tab1 spaces apart (default is 8). Otherwise, set the tabs at columns tab1, tab2, … (numbered from 0), and replace any tabs beyond the last tab stop given with single spaces. Tab stops can be separated by blanks as well as by commas.

For compatibility, GNU expand also accepts the obsolete option syntax, `-t1[,t2]…'. New scripts should use `-t t1[,t2]…' instead.

`-i'
`--initial'

Only convert initial tabs (those that precede all non-space or non-tab characters) on each line to spaces.

An exit status of zero indicates success, and a nonzero value indicates failure.


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

9.3 unexpand: Convert spaces to tabs

unexpand writes the contents of each given file, or standard input if none are given or for a file of `-', to standard output, converting blanks at the beginning of each line into as many tab characters as needed. In the default POSIX locale, a blank is a space or a tab; other locales may specify additional blank characters. Synopsis:

 
unexpand [option]… [file]…

By default, unexpand converts only initial blanks (those that precede all non-blank characters) on each line. It preserves backspace characters in the output; they decrement the column count for tab calculations. By default, tabs are set at every 8th column.

The program accepts the following options. Also see Common options.

`-t tab1[,tab2]…'
`--tabs=tab1[,tab2]…'

If only one tab stop is given, set the tabs tab1 columns apart instead of the default 8. Otherwise, set the tabs at columns tab1, tab2, … (numbered from 0), and leave blanks beyond the tab stops given unchanged. Tab stops can be separated by blanks as well as by commas. This option implies the `-a' option.

For compatibility, GNU unexpand supports the obsolete option syntax, `-tab1[,tab2]…', where tab stops must be separated by commas. (Unlike `-t', this obsolete option does not imply `-a'.) New scripts should use `--first-only -t tab1[,tab2]…' instead.

`-a'
`--all'

Also convert all sequences of two or more blanks just before a tab stop, even if they occur after non-blank characters in a line.

An exit status of zero indicates success, and a nonzero value indicates failure.


[ << ] [ >> ]           [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

This document was generated on January, 20 2010 using texi2html 1.76.