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String Between, Before and After MethodsImplement between, before and after methods to find relative substrings. Locate substrings based on surrounding chars.
Python
This page was last reviewed on Jan 18, 2023.
Between, before, after. Often in parsing text, a string's position relative to other characters is important. For example, a parameter to a method is between two parentheses.
Method use. For simple text languages, these surrounding characters are easy to handle. We can implement a between() method that returns a substring surrounded by two others.
Input and output. Here we see some example input and output of the between parsing def. It is important to note the exact character position of the letter "A."
Input and output:
Input = "DEFINE:A=TWO" Between("DEFINE:", "=TWO") = "A"
Example defs. This Python program includes three new methods: between, before and after. We internally call find() and rfind(). These methods return -1 when nothing is found.
And We use the indexes returned by find() and rfind to get the indexes of the desired string slice.
Substring
Finally We use the string slice syntax in Python to get substrings of the strings. We thus get substrings relative to other substrings.
def between(value, a, b): # Find and validate before-part. pos_a = value.find(a) if pos_a == -1: return "" # Find and validate after part. pos_b = value.rfind(b) if pos_b == -1: return "" # Return middle part. adjusted_pos_a = pos_a + len(a) if adjusted_pos_a >= pos_b: return "" return value[adjusted_pos_a:pos_b] def before(value, a): # Find first part and return slice before it. pos_a = value.find(a) if pos_a == -1: return "" return value[0:pos_a] def after(value, a): # Find and validate first part. pos_a = value.rfind(a) if pos_a == -1: return "" # Returns chars after the found string. adjusted_pos_a = pos_a + len(a) if adjusted_pos_a >= len(value): return "" return value[adjusted_pos_a:] # Test the methods with this literal. test = "DEFINE:A=TWO" print(between(test, "DEFINE:", "=")) print(between(test, ":", "=")) print(before(test, ":")) print(before(test, "=")) print(after(test, ":")) print(after(test, "DEFINE:")) print(after(test, "="))
A A DEFINE DEFINE:A A=TWO A=TWO TWO
An issue. The between, before and after methods here return an empty string literal when no value is found. A None result is probably a better choice for these error cases.
So If the None constant is desired, the return statements could be easily modified to return None instead.
None
Simple parsers. I have not needed this code for any Python programs. But often in code I have found that implementing small, domain-specific languages is a good strategy.
And A program could implement a language, like the one with the DEFINE example, to change settings at runtime.
Tip This could reduce changes to your Python code. If a variable needs changing, you could just alter the text file.
Finally Reducing code churn, as with a small configuration file language, can reduce the possibility of new bugs being introduced.
Substring logic can be complex. It is a disaster to be off by one character. Your entire program might fail and ruin your day. With methods that handle this logic, things are easier.
Dot Net Perls is a collection of tested code examples. Pages are continually updated to stay current, with code correctness a top priority.
Sam Allen is passionate about computer languages. In the past, his work has been recommended by Apple and Microsoft and he has studied computers at a selective university in the United States.
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