Awk language programming

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Why learn AWK?

In the past I have covered grep and sed. This section discusses AWK, another cornerstone of UNIX shell programming. There are three variations of AWK:

AWK - the original fromAT&T
NAWK - A newer, improved version from AT&T
GAWK - The Free Software foundation's version

Originally, I didn't plan to discuss NAWK, but several UNIX vendors have replaced AWK with NAWK, andthere are several incompatibilities between the two. It would be cruel of me to not warn you about the differences. So I will highlight those when I come to them. It is important to know than all ofAWK's features are in NAWK and GAWK. Most, if not all, of NAWK's features are in GAWK. NAWK ships as part of Solaris. GAWK does not. However, many sites on the Internet have the sources freely available.If you user Linux, you have GAWK.

Why is AWK so important? It is an excellent filter and report writer. Many UNIX utilities generates rows and columns of information. AWK is an excellent tool forprocessing these rows and columns, and is easier to use AWK than most conventional programming languages. It can be considered to be a pseudo-C interpretor, as it understands the same arithmaticoperators as C. AWK also has string manipulation functions, so it can search for particular strings and modify the output. AWK also has associative arrays, which are incredible useful, and is a featuremost computing languages lack. Associative arrays can make a complex problem a trivial exercise.

I won't exhaustively cover AWK. That is, I will cover the essential parts, and avoid the manyvariants of AWK. It might be too confusing to discuss three different versions of AWK. I won't cover the GNU version of AWK called "gawk." Similarly, I will not discuss the new AT&T AWK called "nawk." Thenew AWK comes on the Sun system, and you may find it superior to the old AWK in many ways. In particular, it has better diagnostics, and won't print out the infamous "bailing out near line ..."...
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