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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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4.3 Creating Strings

The following functions create strings, either from scratch, or by putting strings together, or by taking them apart.

Function: make-string count character
This function returns a string made up of count repetitions of character. If count is negative, an error is signaled.

(make-string 5 ?x)
     => "xxxxx"
(make-string 0 ?x)
     => ""

Other functions to compare with this one include char-to-string (see section 4.6 Conversion of Characters and Strings), make-vector (see section 6.4 Vectors), and make-list (see section 5.5 Building Cons Cells and Lists).

Function: string &rest characters
This returns a string containing the characters characters.

(string ?a ?b ?c)
     => "abc"

Function: substring string start &optional end
This function returns a new string which consists of those characters from string in the range from (and including) the character at the index start up to (but excluding) the character at the index end. The first character is at index zero.

(substring "abcdefg" 0 3)
     => "abc"

Here the index for `a' is 0, the index for `b' is 1, and the index for `c' is 2. Thus, three letters, `abc', are copied from the string "abcdefg". The index 3 marks the character position up to which the substring is copied. The character whose index is 3 is actually the fourth character in the string.

A negative number counts from the end of the string, so that -1 signifies the index of the last character of the string. For example:

(substring "abcdefg" -3 -1)
     => "ef"

In this example, the index for `e' is -3, the index for `f' is -2, and the index for `g' is -1. Therefore, `e' and `f' are included, and `g' is excluded.

When nil is used as an index, it stands for the length of the string. Thus,

(substring "abcdefg" -3 nil)
     => "efg"

Omitting the argument end is equivalent to specifying nil. It follows that (substring string 0) returns a copy of all of string.

(substring "abcdefg" 0)
     => "abcdefg"

But we recommend copy-sequence for this purpose (see section 6.1 Sequences).

If the characters copied from string have text properties, the properties are copied into the new string also. See section 32.19 Text Properties.

substring also accepts a vector for the first argument. For example:

(substring [a b (c) "d"] 1 3)
     => [b (c)]

A wrong-type-argument error is signaled if either start or end is not an integer or nil. An args-out-of-range error is signaled if start indicates a character following end, or if either integer is out of range for string.

Contrast this function with buffer-substring (see section 32.2 Examining Buffer Contents), which returns a string containing a portion of the text in the current buffer. The beginning of a string is at index 0, but the beginning of a buffer is at index 1.

Function: concat &rest sequences
This function returns a new string consisting of the characters in the arguments passed to it (along with their text properties, if any). The arguments may be strings, lists of numbers, or vectors of numbers; they are not themselves changed. If concat receives no arguments, it returns an empty string.

(concat "abc" "-def")
     => "abc-def"
(concat "abc" (list 120 121) [122])
     => "abcxyz"
;; nil is an empty sequence.
(concat "abc" nil "-def")
     => "abc-def"
(concat "The " "quick brown " "fox.")
     => "The quick brown fox."
     => ""

The concat function always constructs a new string that is not eq to any existing string.

In Emacs versions before 21, when an argument was an integer (not a sequence of integers), it was converted to a string of digits making up the decimal printed representation of the integer. This obsolete usage no longer works. The proper way to convert an integer to its decimal printed form is with format (see section 4.7 Formatting Strings) or number-to-string (see section 4.6 Conversion of Characters and Strings).

For information about other concatenation functions, see the description of mapconcat in 12.6 Mapping Functions, vconcat in 6.4 Vectors, and append in 5.5 Building Cons Cells and Lists.

Function: split-string string separators
This function splits string into substrings at matches for the regular expression separators. Each match for separators defines a splitting point; the substrings between the splitting points are made into a list, which is the value returned by split-string. If separators is nil (or omitted), the default is "[ \f\t\n\r\v]+".

For example,

(split-string "Soup is good food" "o")
=> ("S" "up is g" "" "d f" "" "d")
(split-string "Soup is good food" "o+")
=> ("S" "up is g" "d f" "d")

When there is a match adjacent to the beginning or end of the string, this does not cause a null string to appear at the beginning or end of the list:

(split-string "out to moo" "o+")
=> ("ut t" " m")

Empty matches do count, when not adjacent to another match:

(split-string "Soup is good food" "o*")
=>("S" "u" "p" " " "i" "s" " " "g" "d" " " "f" "d")
(split-string "Nice doggy!" "")
=>("N" "i" "c" "e" " " "d" "o" "g" "g" "y" "!")

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