5. How can I pad a string to a known length?
Padding strings to a fixed length can be handy when you are printing fixed-length data such as tables or spreadsheets. You can easily perform this task using the printf() function. The following example program shows how to accomplish this task:
In this example, a character array (char* data) is filled with this year's sales data for four regions. Of course, you would want to print this data in an orderly fashion, not just print one figure after the other with no formatting. This being the case, the following statement is used to print the data:
The "%-10.10s" argument tells the printf() function that you are printing a string and you want to force it to be 10 characters long. By default, the string is right-justified, but by including the minus sign (-) before the first 10, you tell the printf() function to left-justify your string. This action forces the printf() function to pad the string with spaces to make it 10 characters long. The result is a clean, formatted spreadsheet-like
6. How can I copy just a portion of a string?
You can use the standard C library function strncpy() to copy one portion of a string into another string. The strncpy() function takes three arguments: the first argument is the destination string, the second argument is the source string, and the third argument is an integer representing the number of characters you want to copy from the source string to the destination string. For example, consider the following program, which uses the strncpy() function to copy portions of one string to another:
The first call to strncpy() in this example program copies the first 11 characters of the source string into dest_str1. This example is fairly straightforward, one you might use often. The second call is a bit more complicated and deserves some explanation. In the second argument to the strncpy() function call, the total length of the source_str string is calculated (using the strlen() function). Then, 13 (the number of characters you want to print) is subtracted from the total length of source_str. This gives the number of remaining characters in source_str. This number is then added to the address of source_str to give a pointer to an address in the source string that is 13 characters from the end of source_str.
Then, for the last argument, the number 13 is specified to denote that 13 characters are to be copied out of the string. The combination of these three arguments in the second call to strncpy() sets dest_str2 equal to the last 13 characters of source_str.
The example program prints the following output:
Notice that before source_str was copied to dest_str1 and dest_st2, dest_str1 and dest_str2 had to be initialized to null characters (\0). This is because the strncpy() function does not automatically append a null character to the string you are copying to. Therefore, you must ensure that you have put the null character after the string you have copied, or else you might wind up with garbage being printed.