Is there a function to return the length of a string?

The fastest way, not requiring external programs (but not usable in Bourne shells):


(note that with bash 3 and above, that's the number of characters, not bytes, which is a significant differences in multi-byte locales. Behaviour of other shells in that regard vary).

or for Bourne shells:

# Bourne
expr "x$varname" : '.*' - 1

(expr prints the number of characters or bytes matching the pattern .*, which is the length of the string (in bytes for GNU expr). The x is necessary to avoid problems with $varname values that are expr operators)


# Bourne, with GNU expr(1)
expr length "x$varname" - 1

(BSD/GNU expr only)

This second version is not specified in POSIX, so is not portable across all platforms.

One may also use awk:

# Bourne with POSIX awk
awk  'BEGIN {print length(ARGV[1])}' "$varname"

(there, whether the length is expressed in bytes or characters depends on the implementation (for instance, it's characters for GNU awk, but bytes for mawk).

Similar needs:

# Korn/Bash

Expands to the number of elements in an array.

# Korn/Bash

Expands to the length of the array's element i.


BashFAQ/007 (last edited 2015-01-14 12:26:52 by StephaneChazelas)