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December 22, 2003 - Managing Variable Attributes with typeset - Part II

In addition to controlling the case (lower/upper) of a variable, it is often useful to specify the justification and also the width if desired.  These attributes are set by using the -L and -R options.  The width may optionally be defined by adding a numeric value immediately after the -L or -R.

In this first example, the variable MY_VAR1 is defined to be left justified and has a maximum length of 5 characters:

$ typeset -R5 MY_VAR1
$ BORDER="|"
$ MY_VAR1="owl"
$ print "${BORDER}${MY_VAR1}${BORDER}"
|  owl|

A variable named BORDER was used to show you that the shell will pad unused character positions with spaces.  In the next example, notice how the shell truncates the variable to maintain the pre-defined width of 5:

$ typeset -L5 MY_VAR2
$ BORDER="|"
$ MY_VAR2="falcon"
$ print "${BORDER}${MY_VAR2}${BORDER}"

If a width is not specified for a variable, the shell defines it to be the length of the first value assigned to it:

$ typeset -L MY_VAR3
$ BORDER="|"
$ MY_VAR3="raptor"
$ print "${BORDER}${MY_VAR3}${BORDER}"
$ MY_VAR3="eagle"
$ print "${BORDER}${MY_VAR3}${BORDER}"
|eagle |

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