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The AWK Programming Language 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0201079814
ISBN-10: 020107981X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Originally developed by Alfred Aho, Brian Kernighan, and Peter Weinberger in 1977, AWK is a pattern-matching language for writing short programs to perform common data-manipulation tasks. In 1985, a new version of the language was developed, incorporating additional features such as multiple input files, dynamic regular expressions, and user-defined functions. This new version is available for both Unix and MS-DOS.

This is the first book on AWK. It begins with a tutorial that shows how easy AWK is to use. The tutorial is followed by a comprehensive manual for the new version of AWK. Subsequent chapters illustrate the language by a range of useful applications, such as:

  • Retrieving, transforming, reducing, and validating data
  • Managing small, personal databases
  • Text processing
  • Little languages
  • Experimenting with algorithms
The examples illustrates the book's three themes: showing how to use AWK well, demonstrating AWK's versatility, and explaining how common computing operations are done. In addition, the book contains two appendixes: summary of the language, and answers to selected exercises.



020107981XB04062001

About the Author

Brian W. Kernighan works in the Computing Science Research Center at Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies. He is Consulting Editor for Addison-Wesley's Professional Computing Series and the author, with Dennis Ritchie, of The C Programming Language.

020107981XAB04062001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 1 edition (January 11, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020107981X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201079814
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Powell on February 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is THE bible for awk users. If you refuse to use perl, which incorporated most of awk, or have to maintain old awk scripts then this is the text. I like the O'Reilly text for learning the basics, but after that you need this guide. For some tasks awk is the premier solution, for others, use awk as part of the solution along with perl and a shell script. Still a cool language. And this book is very helpful for both beginning intermediate programmers of awk and advanced users.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book -- but the price is ridiculous. I purchased a paperback copy of "The Awk Programming Language" about 15 years ago, and its price was in the $20 range. Times change, and prices go up, but $73 for a 200-page book, even if it is a hardcover, verges on outright theft.

Which is a shame, because this is a great book, written by the men who developed the language. In addition to a lengthy tutorial, it contains many examples of sophisticated programs that can be constructed from the simple tools provided by Awk. Anyone who supports computers for a living, whether in the Unix or Windows environment, can find valuable ideas here.

But the price: c'mon guys, you've got to be kidding. This book has been in print for 20 years now. You've long since made back the initial costs of publishing it. The authors are famous in computer science circles, and have written many other books. I'm sure they don't need the money. So I have to conclude that this is just a cash cow for the publishers.

If you're looking to learn about Awk, and you're on a budget, I would suggest "Effective Awk Programming" by Arnold Robbins. It's available in PDF form as a free download. If you'd like to support the author, buy a printed copy of the book, as I did. Published by O'Reilly, it's available in paperback at Amazon for about $26.

And if you can find a reasonably-priced copy of "The Awk Programming Language", by all means, grab it. It's a classic. Thanks to the publishers, however, it's a classic that's out of most people's reach.
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By A Customer on March 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
The AWK Programming Language was written very well. The first couple of chapters describe the language and the rest are full of real-world examples. The exercises at the end of each section are very helpful and expand on the examples given. Any one who works with flat data files should be familiar with awk, and this is the book to get the job done.
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Format: Paperback
While the Nutshell book is more of a reference guide, Aho's shows how to really use the language with practical examples.
From basic examples to flatfile reports and using Awk to try out language issues in compiler design.
For those who know Awk there are some great ideas in here. For those who are just starting out it's an excellent way to ease yourself into writing Awk scripts.
A script writers must have.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really, when are publishing companies (especially "textbook" publishers like AW) going to be broken up like Ma Bell? This level of pricing seriously smacks of extortion.

I used to own a copy of this book. It's great, and if you're interested in awk you should definitely seek out a USED copy. That said, this is not the end-all-be-all awk reference. Depending on the awk that you're using (more than one flavor exists) this book may actually disappoint you.

Take gawk, for example: it has socket networking, column-based fields, and other bells and whistles that aren't covered in this book. I believe nawk also has features not covered or even acknowledged. So while I agree that this is A great awk book, it is far from being THE great awk book. From my own personal experience with awk, no such book exists. I can't imagine fully embracing awk with less than two decent references. They're all kinda small so two books shouldn't scare you.

My personal opinion: buy a copy of this book in some form and at least get an O'Reilly awk book (sed & awk is a good one), and if you want to go wild with gawk (my favorite), the gawk manual is indispensable.

Or, just learn from websites. There's a ton of info out there ripe for the pickin'.
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If you really want or need to learn Awk - not the GNU Awk, but the Awk that eventually became the de-facto for the BSDs as well as commercial Unixes both current and defunct - this is the book to do it. It is written by the creators of the tool and goes through very helpful use cases just in case, like me, you have a "what can I do with this?" moment with Awk. The O'Reilly Awk book, unfortunately, uses GNU Awk (Gawk) as its reference point, and Gawk diverged quite a bit from the original Awk, just enough to be noticeable in terms of syntax and grammar. Like the difference between Emacs Lisp and SBCL Common Lisp.... you will run into implementation issues, and it's best to have a "clean" reference point that isn't a brain-splittingly complex man page. There are some things that have changed with the original Awk, but not that much; thus why this book is still excellent, if you can get it. The problem, of course, is that it's been out of print for years.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As another recent review stated, the first two paragraphs are well written and to the point.

Many O'Reilly writers can take a good writing tip from the structure of this book!

Reading only two paragraphs, an AWK programmer can easily write intermediate level AWK scripts.

Pros
1) Written to the point, containing only facts, with no unnecessary words!
2) Due to a lack of wordiness, the book is a short read.

Cons
1) I'm still a fan of O'Reilly books being open, or containing no Digital Rights Management. (ie. DRM, Encryption, ...)
2) Cut and dry, similar to Kernighan's, The C Programming Language, but a much shorter read.
3) No PDF or EBook version.
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