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Effective awk Programming (3rd Edition) Paperback – June 2, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For anyone who writes scripts in the awk family of languages, the third edition of Effective awk Programming provides an in-depth guide to processing text files with plenty of working sample code. Whether you are starting out with awk or are an experienced developer, this book will help you extend the reach of your awk scripts.

This tutorial covers the entire spectrum of awk script development: From the basics of opening, searching, and transforming text files, to a comprehensive tutorial for regular expressions, to more advanced features like internetworking. The focus is on the practical side of creating and running awk scripts, and there's plenty of hands-on advice for installing and running today's awk (and gawk).

The book begins with the fundamentals of awk for opening and transforming text flat files. The coverage of regular expressions, from simple rules for matching text to more advanced options, is particularly solid. You learn how to add variables and expressions for more intelligent awk scripts, plus how to parse data into records and fields. You'll also find out how to redirect output from awk scripts to other programs, a useful technique that can cause awk to get a lot more done in real applications.

Later, you learn several valuable sample awk scripts that mimic existing Unix utilities (like grep, id, and split), plus samples for counting words in documents and printing mailing labels, and even a stream editor. This grab bag of sample code lets you try out the techniques presented earlier in the book. Other sections look at support for networking in today's gawk; for example, how gawk can read and write to URLs on the network almost just as easily as local files. Full sample code will teach the beginner or expert how to get productive with networks and awk. Final appendices trace the evolution of the awk language and show you how to download and install gawk.

Suitable for beginner and experienced awk developers, Effective awk Programming, Third Edition, is an extremely worthwhile source of information on a wide range of programming techniques for today's awk. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to the awk programming language
  • Running awk scripts
  • Basic file processing
  • Tutorial for regular expressions
  • Strategies for matching text
  • Dynamic regular expressions
  • Parsing data into records and lines (including separating fields and handling multiple-line records)
  • Using print and printf for printed output with awk (including format specifiers)
  • Redirecting awk scripts output to other processes
  • Basic and advanced awk expressions (constants, variables, and function calls)
  • Patterns
  • Shell variables and actions
  • Arrays (including multidimensional arrays and sorting)
  • Built-in and custom awk functions
  • Internationalizing and localizing awk scripts
  • Advanced gawk (communicating with other processes and networking programming)
  • Running awk and gawk
  • Sample awk scripts
  • Internetworking with awk
  • History and evolution of awk
  • Downloading and installing gawk

Review

'After reading this book you will immediately be rushing to your keyboard to try it out. Some useful hits and tips. Array processing is also covered here. It is a good book. However nothing replaces experience. So read it and try it out.' plomax@oriole.com 'Highly recommended.' - Peter S Tillier, Cvu, December 2001
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; Third Edition edition (May 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596000707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596000707
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arnold Robbins is a professional programmer, instructor, and author. A long-time GNU Project volunteer, he currently maintains gawk. He has worked with C, C++, Unix, and GNU/Linux since 1980.

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Primoz Peterlin on February 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Awk is one of those handy Unix tools with which you can easily impress people. Using a simple
/pattern/ { action }
syntax, you can construct powerful one-liners. Do you want to how much time in total you spent surfing the Internet? Here it is:
awk '/Connect time/ { s += $8 } END { print s }' /var/log/messages
It doesn't get much shorter in any other programming language, does it? Need to strip text of HTML tags? Need a frequency count of words in a text? Awk is the perfect tool for tasks like this. With its pattern-action structure, powerful regular expression mechanism, associative arrays and basic program flow control, it provides a powerful tool for manipulating flat text files. Even though other scripting languages may be richer in features, there exists a niche where Awk is just the right tool to do the job.
Arnold Robbins, the author of this book as well as of several other books on Awk, serves also as the maintainer of GNU Awk (gawk for short), the most influential version of Awk available today. With the version 3.10, released in 2001, GNU Awk became richer for a handful of new extensions over traditional Awk, most important among them are the TCP/IP networking and the support for internationalization. All new extensions are described in the book. How successful these new extensions will be is doubtful, however. Networking scripting niche is already well covered with Perl and Python, and internationalization doesn't really matter much in short throw-away scripts Awk is usually used for.
With all due respect to the creators of Awk and their book (Alfred V. Aho, Peter J. Weinberger, Brian W. Kernighan, The Awk Programming Language, Addison-Wesley, 1988), I have to say that "Effective Awk Programming" is probably the best Awk tutorial on the market today.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book explains both the awk language and how to run the awk utility. You should already be familiar with basic system commands, such as cat and ls, as well as basic shell facilities, such as input/output redirection and pipes. This book describes the awk language in general and also the particular implementation of awk called gawk. gawk runs on a broad range of Unix systems and has also been ported to Mac OS X, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, and VMS.

Many people are familiar with O'Reilly's book on sed and awk, but not this book. If you want to zero in on awk and its capabilities, this is really the better of the two books. It makes an excellent tutorial and reference for system administrators and anyone else that wants to use awk to extract and format text. The following is a description of the book from the context of the table of contents:

Chapter 1. The awk language and gawk - talks about the basics including how to run awk, when you should use awk, and starts you off with a few simple examples.

Chapter 2. Regular expressions - introduces regular expressions in general, and in particular the flavors supported by POSIX awk and gawk.

Chapter 3 Reading Input Files - describes how awk reads your data. It introduces the concepts of records and fields, as well as the getline command. I/O redirection is first described here.

Chapter 4. Printing Output - Besides basic and formatted printing, this chapter also covers I/O redirections to files and pipes, introduces the special filenames that gawk processes internally, and discusses the close built-in function.

Chapter 5. Expressions - describes expressions, which are the basic building blocks of awk patterns and actions.

Chapter 6.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey D. Boyd on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is being picked up by the O'Reilly people. I have many of the O'Reilly books on my book shelf. There will be a third edition due out in July with Robbins as the author. I read though this book and thought it as good or better than the "Sed & awk" book that O'Reilly presently has out. Robbins is also an author on this book. I thought the book to be better than the "AWK programming language" by Aho, Kerninghan and Weinberger, the original authors of the AWK language. I recommend the book to beginers as I am.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bindlestiff on November 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every once in a while I am told to panic and get something done in an unreasonable amount of time. When the "something" involves text processing I sometimes return to AWK, and last night it saved my bacon once again. This book has never quite given me the sort of reader experience I'd hoped for, but it does get the job done and can help you do the same.
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Awk is a powerful tool to perform search, and pattern matching on the strings/files.

This book is an essential for people writing unix scripts and doing system administration.

It gives you insight on how things work, and has very nice examples and tricks to perform the tasks.

Mostly the majority of the tasks are covered in the beginning, and the deep rooted tasks, are covered in the later chapters.
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