Substring ExamplesGet substrings with ranges and indexes. Regular expressions can be used to get substrings.
This page was last reviewed on Feb 19, 2023.
Substring. A substring is a range of characters within an existing string. There is no substring method in Ruby. Instead we rely upon ranges and expressions.
With a range, we use periods in between 2 numbers—the first and last index of the substring. With indexes, we use a comma between 2 numbers—a start and a count.
Range example. We begin with ranges. We first examine the string "apple," which has 5 chars numbered 0 through 4. With the first range, we get a substring of the first 4 chars.
Info For a negative end on a range, we count backwards from the length of the string.
And The period character is used within ranges. We can use 2 or 3 dots to indicate a range.
# Index 0 = a # Index 1 = p # Index 2 = p # Index 3 = l # Index 4 = e value = "apple" # Get substring at indexes 0 through 3. # ... This is the first 4 characters. first_part = value[0..3] # Get substring at indexes 2 through 3. second_part = value[2..3] # Get substring past index 3 through end of string. last_part = value[3..-1] puts first_part puts second_part puts last_part
appl pl le
Comma indexes example. This is another syntax for substrings. We specify 2 numbers separated by a comma. The first number is the start index. The second is the length.
Tip With the comma substring syntax, we do not specify a range with two indexes. The second number is now a length (a character count).
value = "love" # Get substring at index 1 with length 3. # ... First argument is start index, second is length. last_three = value[1,3] puts last_three # Get substring at index 1 with length 2. middle_two = value[1,2] puts middle_two
ove ov
Regular expressions. We can get substrings with a regular expression argument in place of ranges or indexes. The substring returned is the match of the regexp.
Here We specify that we want substrings that are three characters long and begin with the letter "a."
Result The first substring expression returns "ace" which is found in "peace." The second returns "art."
data = "peace" # Get three-letter substring starting with lowercase "a." three_letters = data[/a../] puts three_letters data = "part" # Get three letter substring for a different string. three_letters = data[/a../] puts three_letters
ace art
a The lowercase letter "a". . Any character.
Substring tests. We can use an expression for checking if a substring is contained within a string. We specify the exact substring in square brackets.
Detail In the first example, the philosopher string contains the substring "lato" so the substring test returns true.
Detail When the substring is not found within the string, false is returned. In this way we search strings.
philosopher = "plato" # This substring is found, so the expression returns true. if philosopher["lato"] puts true end # This substring is not contained with the string. if philosopher["soc"] puts false end
Assign. A part of a string can be changed by assigning a substring. We can assign to a range of a string, or specify a start and a length (separated by a comma).
Tip Regexp and exact strings can also be used. The matching part of the string is replaced with the specified value.
value = "coffee" # Change range from 2 to last index. # ... This replaces the substring. value[2..-1] = "ugh" puts value value = "abcd" # Change substring starting at index 0 with length 2. # ... Assign a new substring. value[0,2] = "xy_" puts value
cough xy_cd
Assign, first match. In assigning a substring, only the first match is replaced. Another string method, like replace(), can be used to replace all matching instances.
value = "one one one" # Replace first instance of this substring. value["one"] = "two" puts value # A regexp also replaces the first (leftmost) instance found. value[/o\w\w/] = "two" puts value
two one one two two one
o The lowercase letter "o". \w A word character (letter or digit).
Between, before, after. Suppose we wish to locate substrings that are between, before or after other substrings. We can develop methods with index() to perform this task.
Between, before, after
Assign all instances. We must use the gsub method to replace all instances of a substring with another. The sub() method acts in the same way as assigning a substring.
sub, gsub
A review. A single character can be returned with a single number. A longer substring can be specified with a simple range or 2 indexes (a start and a count).
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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.
This page was last updated on Feb 19, 2023 (edit).
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