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bug#7455: cut - lack of --merge-delimiters option

From: Jim Meyering
Subject: bug#7455: cut - lack of --merge-delimiters option
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 08:16:35 +0100

Pádraig Brady wrote:
> On 23/11/10 12:57, Leo Lopes wrote:
>> Thanks for replying.
>>> makes me wonder if it's just a question of documentation
>>> and/or general education.  cut is a very specialized tool.
>>> If it doesn't do the job, using a more general-purpose one
>>> is easy, once you see how.  Do you think that adding a few
>>> examples in "info cut" (including uses of awk) would suffice?
>> I think adding the awk or tr examples in the manpage/info page would
>> be helpful. However, I personally don't think it would suffice. I
>> think it would still violate the principle of least surprise.
> Well it's still marginal in my mind.
> The argument for supporting `cut -d '[:blank:]'` is that
> `sort` and `join` for e.g. support this notion of a field by default,
> so it's a very common requirement which we might want to
> support directly, rather than relying on `awk`.

That is a compelling argument.  For me, it has tipped the balance,
so now I'm slightly in favor of some sort of functional change.

> We should at least document something like this in: info cut invocation
> Also consider using `awk` which supports more sophisticated field
> processing.  `awk` by default will use (and discard) blank characters
> to separate fields.  Leading and trailing blanks on a line are ignored.
> Examples:
>   print the 2nd field:         awk '{print $2}'
>   print the 2nd to last field: awk '{print $NF-1}'

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