The Replacement String


The vim and sed editors use regular expressions as search strings within Substitute commands. You can use the ampersand (&) and quoted digits (\n) special characters to represent the matched strings within the corresponding replacement string.

Ampersand

Within a replacement string, an ampersand (&) takes on the value of the string that the search string (regular expression) matched. For example, the following vim Substitute command surrounds a string of one or more digits with NN. The ampersand in the replacement string matches whatever string of digits the regular expression (search string) matched:

:s/[0-9][0-9]*/NN&NN/ 


Two character-class definitions are required because the regular expression [09]* matches zero or more occurrences of a digit, and any character string constitutes zero or more occurrences of a digit.

Quoted Digit

Within the search string, a bracketed regular expression, \(xxx\), matches what the regular expression would have matched without the quoted parentheses, xxx. Within the replacement string, a quoted digit, \n, represents the string that the bracketed regular expression (portion of the search string) beginning with the nth \( matched. For example, you can take a list of people in the form

last-name, first-name initial 


and put it in the form

first-name initial last-name 


with the following vim command:

:1,$s/\([^,]*\), \(.*\)/\2 \1/ 


This command addresses all the lines in the file (1,$). The Substitute command (s) uses a search string and a replacement string delimited by forward slashes. The first bracketed regular expression within the search string, \([^,]*\), matches what the same unbracketed regular expression, [^,]*, would match: zero or more characters not containing a comma (the last-name). Following the first bracketed regular expression are a comma and a SPACE that match themselves. The second bracketed expression, \(.*\), matches any string of characters (the first-name and initial).

The replacement string consists of what the second bracketed regular expression matched (\2), followed by a SPACE and what the first bracketed regular expression matched (\1).




A Practical Guide to UNIX[r] for Mac OS[r] X Users
A Practical Guide to UNIX for Mac OS X Users
ISBN: 0131863339
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 234

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