[Gretl-devel] Suggestion for new string-checking built-in function

Allin Cottrell cottrell at wfu.edu
Fri Aug 19 10:27:50 EDT 2016

On Fri, 19 Aug 2016, Sven Schreiber wrote:

> Hi,
> it often occurs (at least in my own and in Artur's hansl programming) that 
> you want to check whether a certain string variable contains some shorter 
> string. For example whether variable 's1' contains the string "USA", without 
> being necessarily exactly equal to "USA".
> Currently to my knowledge this can/must be done using the strstr() function, 
> either like this (producing non-negative integer output):
> strlen(strstr(s1, "USA"))
> or like this:
> strstr(s1, "USA") != ""
> I find both variants relatively clumsy, so I'm asking for syntactic sugar 
> which would be equivalent to the second expression above. For example an 
> 'instring()' function that would be loosely analogous to the inbundle() or 
> inlist() functions.
> So the above example would simply be rewritten as:
> instring(s1, "USA")
> But maybe Jack or somebody else have an alternative suggestions what could be 
> done instead with existing hansl constructs.

How about if we emulated C (sort of) and allowed empty and non-empty 
strings to evaluate as 0 and 1 where the context requires a Boolean 
result? Then you could just say

if strstr(s1, "USA")
   # something
   # something else

(Strictly, in C "strstr(s1, s2)" in a Boolean context is equivalent to 
"strstr(s1, s2) != NULL". But we don't have truly NULL strings 
floating around in hansl, and emptiness seems like the moral 


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