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10.2. Parameter Substitution

Manipulating and/or expanding variables

${parameter}

Same as $parameter, i.e., value of the variable parameter. In certain contexts, only the less ambiguous ${parameter} form works.

May be used for concatenating variables with strings.

your_id=${USER}-on-${HOSTNAME}
echo "$your_id"
#
echo "Old \$PATH = $PATH"
PATH=${PATH}:/opt/bin  # Add /opt/bin to $PATH for duration of script.
echo "New \$PATH = $PATH"
${parameter-default}, ${parameter:-default}

If parameter not set, use default.

var1=1
var2=2
# var3 is unset.

echo ${var1-$var2}   # 1
echo ${var3-$var2}   # 2
#           ^          Note the $ prefix.



echo ${username-`whoami`}
# Echoes the result of `whoami`, if variable $username is still unset.

Note

${parameter-default} and ${parameter:-default} are almost equivalent. The extra : makes a difference only when parameter has been declared, but is null.

#!/bin/bash
# param-sub.sh

#  Whether a variable has been declared
#+ affects triggering of the default option
#+ even if the variable is null.

username0=
echo "username0 has been declared, but is set to null."
echo "username0 = ${username0-`whoami`}"
# Will not echo.

echo

echo username1 has not been declared.
echo "username1 = ${username1-`whoami`}"
# Will echo.

username2=
echo "username2 has been declared, but is set to null."
echo "username2 = ${username2:-`whoami`}"
#                            ^
# Will echo because of :- rather than just - in condition test.
# Compare to first instance, above.


#

# Once again:

variable=
# variable has been declared, but is set to null.

echo "${variable-0}"    # (no output)
echo "${variable:-1}"   # 1
#               ^

unset variable

echo "${variable-2}"    # 2
echo "${variable:-3}"   # 3

exit 0

The default parameter construct finds use in providing "missing" command-line arguments in scripts.

DEFAULT_FILENAME=generic.data
filename=${1:-$DEFAULT_FILENAME}
#  If not otherwise specified, the following command block operates
#+ on the file "generic.data".
#  Begin-Command-Block
#  ...
#  ...
#  ...
#  End-Command-Block



#  From "hanoi2.bash" example:
DISKS=${1:-E_NOPARAM}   # Must specify how many disks.
#  Set $DISKS to $1 command-line-parameter,
#+ or to $E_NOPARAM if that is unset.

See also Example 3-4, Example 30-2, and Example A-6.

Compare this method with using an and list to supply a default command-line argument.

${parameter=default}, ${parameter:=default}

If parameter not set, set it to default.

Both forms nearly equivalent. The : makes a difference only when $parameter has been declared and is null, [1] as above.

echo ${var=abc}   # abc
echo ${var=xyz}   # abc
# $var had already been set to abc, so it did not change.
${parameter+alt_value}, ${parameter:+alt_value}

If parameter set, use alt_value, else use null string.

Both forms nearly equivalent. The : makes a difference only when parameter has been declared and is null, see below.

echo "###### \${parameter+alt_value} ########"
echo

a=${param1+xyz}
echo "a = $a"      # a =

param2=
a=${param2+xyz}
echo "a = $a"      # a = xyz

param3=123
a=${param3+xyz}
echo "a = $a"      # a = xyz

echo
echo "###### \${parameter:+alt_value} ########"
echo

a=${param4:+xyz}
echo "a = $a"      # a =

param5=
a=${param5:+xyz}
echo "a = $a"      # a =
# Different result from   a=${param5+xyz}

param6=123
a=${param6:+xyz}
echo "a = $a"      # a = xyz
${parameter?err_msg}, ${parameter:?err_msg}

If parameter set, use it, else print err_msg.

Both forms nearly equivalent. The : makes a difference only when parameter has been declared and is null, as above.

Example 10-7. Using parameter substitution and error messages

#!/bin/bash

#  Check some of the system's environmental variables.
#  This is good preventative maintenance.
#  If, for example, $USER, the name of the person at the console, is not set,
#+ the machine will not recognize you.

: ${HOSTNAME?} ${USER?} ${HOME?} ${MAIL?}
  echo
  echo "Name of the machine is $HOSTNAME."
  echo "You are $USER."
  echo "Your home directory is $HOME."
  echo "Your mail INBOX is located in $MAIL."
  echo
  echo "If you are reading this message,"
  echo "critical environmental variables have been set."
  echo
  echo

# ------------------------------------------------------

#  The ${variablename?} construction can also check
#+ for variables set within the script.

ThisVariable=Value-of-ThisVariable
#  Note, by the way, that string variables may be set
#+ to characters disallowed in their names.
: ${ThisVariable?}
echo "Value of ThisVariable is $ThisVariable".

echo; echo


: ${ZZXy23AB?"ZZXy23AB has not been set."}
#  Since ZZXy23AB has not been set,
#+ then the script terminates with an error message.

# You can specify the error message.
# : ${variablename?"ERROR MESSAGE"}


# Same result with:   dummy_variable=${ZZXy23AB?}
#                     dummy_variable=${ZZXy23AB?"ZXy23AB has not been set."}
#
#                     echo ${ZZXy23AB?} >/dev/null

#  Compare these methods of checking whether a variable has been set
#+ with "set -u" . . .



echo "You will not see this message, because script already terminated."

HERE=0
exit $HERE   # Will NOT exit here.

# In fact, this script will return an exit status (echo $?) of 1.

Example 10-8. Parameter substitution and "usage" messages

#!/bin/bash
# usage-message.sh

: ${1?"Usage: $0 ARGUMENT"}
#  Script exits here if command-line parameter absent,
#+ with following error message.
#    usage-message.sh: 1: Usage: usage-message.sh ARGUMENT

echo "These two lines echo only if command-line parameter given."
echo "command-line parameter = \"$1\""

exit 0  # Will exit here only if command-line parameter present.

# Check the exit status, both with and without command-line parameter.
# If command-line parameter present, then "$?" is 0.
# If not, then "$?" is 1.

Parameter substitution and/or expansion. The following expressions are the complement to the match in expr string operations (see Example 16-9). These particular ones are used mostly in parsing file path names.

Variable length / Substring removal

${#var}

String length (number of characters in $var). For an array, ${#array} is the length of the first element in the array.

Note

Exceptions:

  • ${#*} and ${#@} give the number of positional parameters.

  • For an array, ${#array[*]} and ${#array[@]} give the number of elements in the array.

Example 10-9. Length of a variable

#!/bin/bash
# length.sh

E_NO_ARGS=65

if [ $# -eq 0 ]  # Must have command-line args to demo script.
then
  echo "Please invoke this script with one or more command-line arguments."
  exit $E_NO_ARGS
fi  

var01=abcdEFGH28ij
echo "var01 = ${var01}"
echo "Length of var01 = ${#var01}"
# Now, let's try embedding a space.
var02="abcd EFGH28ij"
echo "var02 = ${var02}"
echo "Length of var02 = ${#var02}"

echo "Number of command-line arguments passed to script = ${#@}"
echo "Number of command-line arguments passed to script = ${#*}"

exit 0
${var#Pattern}, ${var##Pattern}

${var#Pattern} Remove from $var the shortest part of $Pattern that matches the front end of $var.

${var##Pattern} Remove from $var the longest part of $Pattern that matches the front end of $var.

A usage illustration from Example A-7:
# Function from "days-between.sh" example.
# Strips leading zero(s) from argument passed.

strip_leading_zero () #  Strip possible leading zero(s)
{                     #+ from argument passed.
  return=${1#0}       #  The "1" refers to "$1" -- passed arg.
}                     #  The "0" is what to remove from "$1" -- strips zeros.

Manfred Schwarb's more elaborate variation of the above:

strip_leading_zero2 () # Strip possible leading zero(s), since otherwise
{                      # Bash will interpret such numbers as octal values.
  shopt -s extglob     # Turn on extended globbing.
  local val=${1##+(0)} # Use local variable, longest matching series of 0's.
  shopt -u extglob     # Turn off extended globbing.
  _strip_leading_zero2=${val:-0}
                       # If input was 0, return 0 instead of "".
}

Another usage illustration:

echo `basename $PWD`        # Basename of current working directory.
echo "${PWD##*/}"           # Basename of current working directory.
echo
echo `basename $0`          # Name of script.
echo $0                     # Name of script.
echo "${0##*/}"             # Name of script.
echo
filename=test.data
echo "${filename##*.}"      # data
                            # Extension of filename.
${var%Pattern}, ${var%%Pattern}

${var%Pattern} Remove from $var the shortest part of $Pattern that matches the back end of $var.

${var%%Pattern} Remove from $var the longest part of $Pattern that matches the back end of $var.

Version 2 of Bash added additional options.

Example 10-10. Pattern matching in parameter substitution

#!/bin/bash
# patt-matching.sh

# Pattern matching  using the # ## % %% parameter substitution operators.

var1=abcd12345abc6789
pattern1=a*c  # * (wild card) matches everything between a - c.

echo
echo "var1 = $var1"           # abcd12345abc6789
echo "var1 = ${var1}"         # abcd12345abc6789
                              # (alternate form)
echo "Number of characters in ${var1} = ${#var1}"
echo

echo "pattern1 = $pattern1"   # a*c  (everything between 'a' and 'c')
echo "--------------"
echo '${var1#$pattern1}  =' "${var1#$pattern1}"    #         d12345abc6789
# Shortest possible match, strips out first 3 characters  abcd12345abc6789
#                                     ^^^^^               |-|
echo '${var1##$pattern1} =' "${var1##$pattern1}"   #                  6789      
# Longest possible match, strips out first 12 characters  abcd12345abc6789
#                                    ^^^^^                |----------|

echo; echo; echo

pattern2=b*9            # everything between 'b' and '9'
echo "var1 = $var1"     # Still  abcd12345abc6789
echo
echo "pattern2 = $pattern2"
echo "--------------"
echo '${var1%pattern2}  =' "${var1%$pattern2}"     #     abcd12345a
# Shortest possible match, strips out last 6 characters  abcd12345abc6789
#                                     ^^^^                         |----|
echo '${var1%%pattern2} =' "${var1%%$pattern2}"    #     a
# Longest possible match, strips out last 12 characters  abcd12345abc6789
#                                    ^^^^                 |-------------|

# Remember, # and ## work from the left end (beginning) of string,
#           % and %% work from the right end.

echo

exit 0

Example 10-11. Renaming file extensions:

#!/bin/bash
# rfe.sh: Renaming file extensions.
#
#         rfe old_extension new_extension
#
# Example:
# To rename all *.gif files in working directory to *.jpg,
#          rfe gif jpg


E_BADARGS=65

case $# in
  0|1)             # The vertical bar means "or" in this context.
  echo "Usage: `basename $0` old_file_suffix new_file_suffix"
  exit $E_BADARGS  # If 0 or 1 arg, then bail out.
  ;;
esac


for filename in *.$1
# Traverse list of files ending with 1st argument.
do
  mv $filename ${filename%$1}$2
  #  Strip off part of filename matching 1st argument,
  #+ then append 2nd argument.
done

exit 0

Variable expansion / Substring replacement

These constructs have been adopted from ksh.

${var:pos}

Variable var expanded, starting from offset pos.

${var:pos:len}

Expansion to a max of len characters of variable var, from offset pos. See Example A-13 for an example of the creative use of this operator.

${var/Pattern/Replacement}

First match of Pattern, within var replaced with Replacement.

If Replacement is omitted, then the first match of Pattern is replaced by nothing, that is, deleted.

${var//Pattern/Replacement}

Global replacement. All matches of Pattern, within var replaced with Replacement.

As above, if Replacement is omitted, then all occurrences of Pattern are replaced by nothing, that is, deleted.

Example 10-12. Using pattern matching to parse arbitrary strings

#!/bin/bash

var1=abcd-1234-defg
echo "var1 = $var1"

t=${var1#*-*}
echo "var1 (with everything, up to and including first - stripped out) = $t"
#  t=${var1#*-}  works just the same,
#+ since # matches the shortest string,
#+ and * matches everything preceding, including an empty string.
# (Thanks, Stephane Chazelas, for pointing this out.)

t=${var1##*-*}
echo "If var1 contains a \"-\", returns empty string...   var1 = $t"


t=${var1%*-*}
echo "var1 (with everything from the last - on stripped out) = $t"

echo

# -------------------------------------------
path_name=/home/bozo/ideas/thoughts.for.today
# -------------------------------------------
echo "path_name = $path_name"
t=${path_name##/*/}
echo "path_name, stripped of prefixes = $t"
# Same effect as   t=`basename $path_name` in this particular case.
#  t=${path_name%/}; t=${t##*/}   is a more general solution,
#+ but still fails sometimes.
#  If $path_name ends with a newline, then `basename $path_name` will not work,
#+ but the above expression will.
# (Thanks, S.C.)

t=${path_name%/*.*}
# Same effect as   t=`dirname $path_name`
echo "path_name, stripped of suffixes = $t"
# These will fail in some cases, such as "../", "/foo////", # "foo/", "/".
#  Removing suffixes, especially when the basename has no suffix,
#+ but the dirname does, also complicates matters.
# (Thanks, S.C.)

echo

t=${path_name:11}
echo "$path_name, with first 11 chars stripped off = $t"
t=${path_name:11:5}
echo "$path_name, with first 11 chars stripped off, length 5 = $t"

echo

t=${path_name/bozo/clown}
echo "$path_name with \"bozo\" replaced  by \"clown\" = $t"
t=${path_name/today/}
echo "$path_name with \"today\" deleted = $t"
t=${path_name//o/O}
echo "$path_name with all o's capitalized = $t"
t=${path_name//o/}
echo "$path_name with all o's deleted = $t"

exit 0
${var/#Pattern/Replacement}

If prefix of var matches Pattern, then substitute Replacement for Pattern.

${var/%Pattern/Replacement}

If suffix of var matches Pattern, then substitute Replacement for Pattern.

Example 10-13. Matching patterns at prefix or suffix of string

#!/bin/bash
# var-match.sh:
# Demo of pattern replacement at prefix / suffix of string.

v0=abc1234zip1234abc    # Original variable.
echo "v0 = $v0"         # abc1234zip1234abc
echo

# Match at prefix (beginning) of string.
v1=${v0/#abc/ABCDEF}    # abc1234zip1234abc
                        # |-|
echo "v1 = $v1"         # ABCDEF1234zip1234abc
                        # |----|

# Match at suffix (end) of string.
v2=${v0/%abc/ABCDEF}    # abc1234zip123abc
                        #              |-|
echo "v2 = $v2"         # abc1234zip1234ABCDEF
                        #               |----|

echo

#  ----------------------------------------------------
#  Must match at beginning / end of string,
#+ otherwise no replacement results.
#  ----------------------------------------------------
v3=${v0/#123/000}       # Matches, but not at beginning.
echo "v3 = $v3"         # abc1234zip1234abc
                        # NO REPLACEMENT.
v4=${v0/%123/000}       # Matches, but not at end.
echo "v4 = $v4"         # abc1234zip1234abc
                        # NO REPLACEMENT.

exit 0			
${!varprefix*}, ${!varprefix@}
Matches names of all previously declared variables beginning with varprefix.
# This is a variation on indirect reference, but with a * or @.
# Bash, version 2.04, adds this feature.

xyz23=whatever
xyz24=

a=${!xyz*}         #  Expands to *names* of declared variables
# ^ ^   ^           + beginning with "xyz".
echo "a = $a"      #  a = xyz23 xyz24
a=${!xyz@}         #  Same as above.
echo "a = $a"      #  a = xyz23 xyz24

echo "---"

abc23=something_else
b=${!abc*}
echo "b = $b"      #  b = abc23
c=${!b}            #  Now, the more familiar type of indirect reference.
echo $c            #  something_else

Notes

[1]

If $parameter is null in a non-interactive script, it will terminate with a 127 exit status (the Bash error code for "command not found").


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