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GNU Awk: This is Not Your Father's Awk

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Awk, the little language loved by so many, has been around in one form or another since the days of V7 UNIX, circa 1978. Its data- and text-processing capabilities, expressed in a concise, highly expressive syntax, are the epitome of what DSLs strive for and were, in fact, the inspiration for general-purpose scripting languages, particularly Perl.

The original language has evolved considerably. In particular, the GNU version — gawk — is far more powerful than standard Awk. In this article, I provide some background on the development of the Awk language, focusing particularly on gawk. I also take a high-level look at the new features available in gawk 4.1, which was released in May of this year.

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