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on August 1, 2007
I had to do some text processing and I wanted to learn sed & awk so I picked this book that is, to my knowledge, the only book completely dedicated to these tools. The chapter on 'advanced' sed programming is very scary because when using 'advanced' sed features, the syntax is cryptic. It is nice to know that these features are there but I want to stay away from them and perhaps use awk or perl for the tasks that would require those 'advanced' features. Still, when you stick with the 'basic' and 'intermediate' sed features, you can do cool things easily in shell scripts.

Overall, the book was not thrilling to read but it does a good job to teach you these text processing tools.
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on July 1, 2004
I've had this book for 3-4 years now and find it to be mu handiest refernce. I even use ot more than my vi book.
The raw power of sed and awk will humble even the proudest VB programmer and this book will help you get the most out of both the "Aho, Weinberg and Kernigan" and the "stream editor".
The first chapter section is entitled "May You Solve Interesting Problems" a paraphrase of the old Chinese curse, but with sed and awk no problem seems insurmountable and wil make all problems appear interesting.
This book is an outstanding reference and will get you up and running with both of these handy little programs in no time.
Just to give you an example - the first time I ever used these programs (sed and awk) I developed a cron script to query a database every day at midnight, sort the results, grabbed lines with tagged values within certain limits, added a few totals, did some averaging, "starred" the lines that departed from certain parameters, then formatted the results into a report with a header showing the dates, times and query results, statistics then packed them into a report file and e-mailed them to a dozen recipients and added a few recipients if the data was outside certain values.
I did this remarkable feat by copying a few examples from the book, changing a thing or two and in the end had a little shell script that was a few K-bytes at the most.
This VB guy from corporate worked on a VB version of the same function and ended up with six revisions, several megs in the executable and never was able to get it formatted right. Not to say that it couldn't be done but..... I wrote mine before lunch one day. He worked on his for weeks and weeks.
Such is the power contained within should you want to tap it Grasshopper.
Great book. Amaze your friends and colleagues. Have the office women ( or men) throw flowers at your feet as you enter every day - well maybe not, but this will make you more productive.
You real nerds will hardly get finished with a single box of Pop Tarts before you are writing really cool scripts when using this book.
Like all O'Reilly books this one is terse, practical and highly usable - just like UNIX.
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on March 19, 2004
This is a great first book on awk and sed. It also has one of the clearest explanations of regular expressions I could find. I use it all the time in my database programming/data processing work. It has served me well. There are probably more advanced features of awk that are not covered in this book but for the price it is a great bargain. If you want to learn awk buy this book and you won't be disappointed. You can ignore the sections on sed if you like.
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on December 22, 2003
sed and awk typically get a bum rap from perl users. "why learn sed or awk when perl can do both?" yes, it can. and so much more.
but what if you just need to print, say, the first field of a file? or just replace a few characters in a stream? what about the situations when you dont have perl handy (ie a freshly installed IRIX box)?
the sed & awk book is *the* standard. it's not written by anyone famous or whatnot, but it does a fantastic job of covering the basics, the meat, and advanced uses of sed and awk (and variants).
if you spend time on the command line and need to know a few quick tips, this is the book to have for sed and awk. you'll learn regexp material, how to use sed and awk and a bunch of useful routines.
highly reccomended for UNIX shell geeks.
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on November 25, 2002
This is the definitive book on both sed and awk. my only gripe is that it is a bit tedieous at times but that is because hte author doesn't assume any pre knowledge of the subject. A great book for new admins or seasoned hackers.
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on May 29, 2002
Unlike the other Oriely books, this one is a disappointment. There is just lot of text and not much examples. Also things are introduced out of sequence thus making it difficult to get things properly. The examples do not go from simple to difficult. Also there is much talk about troff nroff etc. and then people not familiar with these things get unnecessarily distracted. There are 6 chapters on sed but the amount of information is litte.
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on September 25, 2001
My primarily profession is database administration on Windows NT/2000 platform so I'm pretty new to Unix tools. Several months ago I needed some inexpensive, yet powerful tools to manipulate some large text files for our data warehouse project -- basically I was looking for a way to avoid expensive commercial ETL tools. PERL was my first choice, but it seemed to me that learning curve is too steep for what I needed, so I ended with GNU sed and awk.
I was happy with the GNU version of Guide for Awk "Effective AWK Programming" written by one of the author of this book, Mr. Arnold D. Robbins -- but I needed some good reference for sed as well and this book was logical choice for me. Not only that it helped me to learn SED, now I'm using the book mostly as reference and user guide for awk. It's well written and will certainly satisfy both the advanced and the novice users.
The only objections that I have are examples at the end of the book. Not many readers will find them interesting and useful, especially chapter 12 Full-Featured Applications.
Overall good choice if you want to learn either of the two tools!
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on March 29, 2001
This is a typically great book from O'Reilly Press. I find this book to be invaluable when I need to look up how to do something with sed or awk.
It takes you through the basics of sed and awk, shows you regular expression syntax and delves deeper into both programs. For sed it shows you all of the basic sed commands as well as many of the more advanced commands such as multiline pattern spaces. With awk it goes even deeper as awk is a more powerful program. It shows the basics for writing awk scripts then takes you into flow control, functions and debugging.
I find the writing to be concise and clear with many examples to show you how it works in the real world.
All in all it's a great book for the unix admin or programmer to have on their bookshelf.
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on December 19, 2000
It is a quality and authoritiative book. I first learned awk and sed with Ellen Quigleys 'Unix Shells' and found this book to assist with the more complex issues not covered in her book. (Like working with unstructured, dirty data, and defining a template to pull relevant data from the flat file. I didn't use this as a 'start at the beginning and read all the way through it,' like the 'Mastering Regular Expressions' book. This is more of a reference book.
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on December 8, 2000
This book had far more information on Sed and Awk than I really wanted to read, but objectively speaking, this book did a fabulous job explaining how to use both. The idea of linking them together in one book seems odd, but the author did a pretty nice job utilizing both. I particularly liked the section on debugging awk because the techniques he explained are very applicable to program debugging in general. I also found the section on regular expressions very clearly written and easy to understand (the best I have seen thus far). I wish I had read this book sooner. Also, to the credit of this book, I saved quite a lot of time recently updating about 90 flat files in seconds using sed. Awk has proven quite useful recently in another project too. Thank you Dale and Arnold!
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