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I have a text file which contains (among others) the following lines:


How can I

  • get the 2 lines from this text file (they will always contain }Einleitung resp. }Grundlagen} and
  • extract the 2 page numbers (in this case 27 and 35),
  • calculate the difference 35-27 = 8 and
  • save the difference (8) of the two numbers in a variable

Perhaps with a bash script in Mac OS X?

share|improve this question
var=$({ grep -Eo '(Einleitung|Grundlagen)\}.[0-9]+.'|sort -r|tr '\n' ' '| tr -d -c '0-9 '|awk '{print $1 - $2}'; }</tmp/inputfile) – artistoex Dec 12 '11 at 12:52
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I do not know if Mac OS X has awk. If it does, this should work:

This should work:

 } {
  if ($4=="Einleitung")
  if ($4=="Grundlagen")
 } END {
 }' textfile)

How it works:

  • FS="[{}]+" sets the field separator to any combination of curly brackets.
  • $4 refers to the third filed on the line (separated by curly brackets).
  • DIFFERENZ=$(...) evaluates the command ... and stores the ouput in DIFFERENZ.
share|improve this answer
thanks, that works well with my example. How do I have to write a chapter title which contains a space like Ergebnisse und Diskussion? I tried with if ($3=="Ergebnisse und Diskussion"), but that does not seem to find the correct line – MostlyHarmless Dec 12 '11 at 12:24
@Martin: Spaces are treated as separators. if ($3=="Ergebnisse" && $4=="und" && $5=="Diskussion") should work. But the page number will no longer be stored in $4. I'll update my answer. – Dennis Dec 12 '11 at 12:29
thank you for your help - sorry, I should have directly asked for the more complicated string, but I did not think about this possible complication – MostlyHarmless Dec 12 '11 at 12:32
@Dennis: and now your answer looks like mine :) – akira Dec 12 '11 at 13:41


    FS="}{";           # split lines by '}{'
    e=0;               # set variable 'e' to 0
    g=0;               # set variable 'g' to 0

/Einleitung/ { e=$3; } # 'Einleitung' matches, extract the page
/Grundlagen/ { g=$3;}  # 'Grundlagen' matches, extract the page

    print g-e;         # print difference

you can call it via:

$> awk -f calc.awk < in.txt

it will print 8. you could store that number in a bash-variable like this:

$> nr=`awk -f calc.awk < in.txt` 

if you need it more tight you could also rewrite calc.awk to be not a separate file but a one-line:

$> nr=`awk 'BEGIN{FS="}{";g=0;e=0}/Einleitung/{e=$3;}/Grundlagen/{g=$3;}END{print g-e;}' < in.txt`
share|improve this answer

Pure bash 4.x, and shows the differences for every chapter:

unset page_last title_last page_cur title_cur
while read -r line; do
    if [[ $line =~ $re ]]; then
        title_cur=${BASH_REMATCH[1]} page_cur=${BASH_REMATCH[2]}
        echo "${diff} pages between \"${title_last}\" and \"${title_cur}\""
        title_last=$title_cur page_last=$page_cur
done < "$myfile"
share|improve this answer
$ DIFFERENCE=$(( $( cat FILENAME | grep Grundlagen | head -n1 | cut -c26-27 ) - $( cat FILENAME | grep Einleitung  | head -n1 | cut -c26-27 ) ))

This requires that the lines always look exactly like this (i.e. no different headline), because of the cut.

share|improve this answer
it wont even work with different numbers, lets say 1 or 100 – akira Dec 12 '11 at 12:03
@akira If there are that many pages between introduction and fundamentals chapter headlines, he's doing something wrong :-) But you're right of course. – Daniel Beck Dec 12 '11 at 12:10
@DanielBeck: Thank you for your anwer! As you already state (and @akira says), the usage of this solution is quite limited because the numbers have to be exactly at the same position each time. The solutions with awk are more flexible. – MostlyHarmless Dec 12 '11 at 12:28
@Martin While you're right, you never even hinted that e.g. you want to apply a solution to other chapter names. Quite the opposite with your first list item... – Daniel Beck Dec 12 '11 at 13:28
@DanielBeck: this is true - my question was incomplete. – MostlyHarmless Dec 12 '11 at 15:12

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