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gawk: Translate Program

 11.3.3 Transliterating Characters
 The system 'tr' utility transliterates characters.  For example, it is
 often used to map uppercase letters into lowercase for further
      GENERATE DATA | tr 'A-Z' 'a-z' | PROCESS DATA ...
    'tr' requires two lists of characters.(1)  When processing the input,
 the first character in the first list is replaced with the first
 character in the second list, the second character in the first list is
 replaced with the second character in the second list, and so on.  If
 there are more characters in the "from" list than in the "to" list, the
 last character of the "to" list is used for the remaining characters in
 the "from" list.
    Once upon a time, a user proposed adding a transliteration function
 to 'gawk'.  The following program was written to prove that character
 transliteration could be done with a user-level function.  This program
 is not as complete as the system 'tr' utility, but it does most of the
    The 'translate' program was written long before 'gawk' acquired the
 ability to split each character in a string into separate array
 elements.  Thus, it makes repeated use of the 'substr()', 'index()', and
 'gsub()' built-in functions (⇒String Functions).  There are two
 functions.  The first, 'stranslate()', takes three arguments:
      A list of characters from which to translate
      A list of characters to which to translate
      The string on which to do the translation
    Associative arrays make the translation part fairly easy.  't_ar'
 holds the "to" characters, indexed by the "from" characters.  Then a
 simple loop goes through 'from', one character at a time.  For each
 character in 'from', if the character appears in 'target', it is
 replaced with the corresponding 'to' character.
    The 'translate()' function calls 'stranslate()', using '$0' as the
 target.  The main program sets two global variables, 'FROM' and 'TO',
 from the command line, and then changes 'ARGV' so that 'awk' reads from
 the standard input.
    Finally, the processing rule simply calls 'translate()' for each
      # translate.awk --- do tr-like stuff
      # Bugs: does not handle things like tr A-Z a-z; it has
      # to be spelled out. However, if `to' is shorter than `from',
      # the last character in `to' is used for the rest of `from'.
      function stranslate(from, to, target,     lf, lt, ltarget, t_ar, i, c,
          lf = length(from)
          lt = length(to)
          ltarget = length(target)
          for (i = 1; i <= lt; i++)
              t_ar[substr(from, i, 1)] = substr(to, i, 1)
          if (lt < lf)
              for (; i <= lf; i++)
                  t_ar[substr(from, i, 1)] = substr(to, lt, 1)
          for (i = 1; i <= ltarget; i++) {
              c = substr(target, i, 1)
              if (c in t_ar)
                  c = t_ar[c]
              result = result c
          return result
      function translate(from, to)
          return $0 = stranslate(from, to, $0)
      # main program
      BEGIN {
          if (ARGC < 3) {
              print "usage: translate from to" > "/dev/stderr"
          FROM = ARGV[1]
          TO = ARGV[2]
          ARGC = 2
          ARGV[1] = "-"
          translate(FROM, TO)
    It is possible to do character transliteration in a user-level
 function, but it is not necessarily efficient, and we (the 'gawk'
 developers) started to consider adding a built-in function.  However,
 shortly after writing this program, we learned that Brian Kernighan had
 added the 'toupper()' and 'tolower()' functions to his 'awk' (⇒
 String Functions).  These functions handle the vast majority of the
 cases where character transliteration is necessary, and so we chose to
 simply add those functions to 'gawk' as well and then leave well enough
    An obvious improvement to this program would be to set up the 't_ar'
 array only once, in a 'BEGIN' rule.  However, this assumes that the
 "from" and "to" lists will never change throughout the lifetime of the
    Another obvious improvement is to enable the use of ranges, such as
 'a-z', as allowed by the 'tr' utility.  Look at the code for 'cut.awk'
 (⇒Cut Program) for inspiration.
    ---------- Footnotes ----------
    (1) On some older systems, including Solaris, the system version of
 'tr' may require that the lists be written as range expressions enclosed
 in square brackets ('[a-z]') and quoted, to prevent the shell from
 attempting a file name expansion.  This is not a feature.
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