The Boost C++ Libraries

Chapter 5. Boost.StringAlgorithms

The Boost.StringAlgorithms library provides many free-standing functions for string manipulation. Strings can be of type std::string, std::wstring, or any other instance of the class template std::basic_string. This includes the string classes std::u16string and std::u32string introduced with C++11.

The functions are categorized within different header files. For example, functions converting from uppercase to lowercase are defined in boost/algorithm/string/case_conv.hpp. Because Boost.StringAlgorithms consists of more than 20 different categories and as many header files, boost/algorithm/string.hpp acts as the common header including all other header files for convenience.

Example 5.1. Converting strings to uppercase
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  std::cout << to_upper_copy(s) << '\n';
}

The function boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy() converts a string to uppercase, and boost::algorithm::to_lower_copy() converts a string to lowercase. Both functions return a copy of the input string, converted to the specified case. To convert the string in place, use the functions boost::algorithm::to_upper() or boost::algorithm::to_lower().

Example 5.1 converts the string Boost C++ Libraries to uppercase using boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy(). The example writes BOOST C++ LIBRARIES to standard output.

Functions from Boost.StringAlgorithms consider locales. Functions like boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy() use the global locale if no locale is passed explicitly as a parameter.

Example 5.2. Converting a string to uppercase with a locale
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <locale>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ k\xfct\xfcphaneleri";
  std::string upper_case1 = to_upper_copy(s);
  std::string upper_case2 = to_upper_copy(s, std::locale{"Turkish"});
  std::locale::global(std::locale{"Turkish"});
  std::cout << upper_case1 << '\n';
  std::cout << upper_case2 << '\n';
}

Example 5.2 calls boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy() twice to convert the Turkish string Boost C++ kütüphaneleri to uppercase. The first call to boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy() uses the global locale, which in this case is the C locale. In the C locale, there is no uppercase mapping for characters with umlauts, so the output will look like this: BOOST C++ KüTüPHANELERI.

The Turkish locale is passed to the second call to boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy(). Since this locale does have uppercase equivalents for umlauts, the entire string can be converted to uppercase. Therefore, the second call to boost::algorithm::to_upper_copy() correctly converts the string, which looks like this: BOOST C++ KÜTÜPHANELERI.

Note

If you want to run the example on a POSIX operating system, replace Turkish with tr_TR, and make sure the Turkish locale is installed.

Example 5.3. Algorithms to remove characters from a string
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  std::cout << erase_first_copy(s, "s") << '\n';
  std::cout << erase_nth_copy(s, "s", 0) << '\n';
  std::cout << erase_last_copy(s, "s") << '\n';
  std::cout << erase_all_copy(s, "s") << '\n';
  std::cout << erase_head_copy(s, 5) << '\n';
  std::cout << erase_tail_copy(s, 9) << '\n';
}

Boost.StringAlgorithms provides several functions you can use to delete individual characters from a string (see Example 5.3). For example, boost::algorithm::erase_all_copy() will remove all occurrences of a particular character from a string. To remove only the first occurrence of the character, use boost::algorithm::erase_first_copy() instead. To shorten a string by a specific number of characters on either end, use the functions boost::algorithm::erase_head_copy() and boost::algorithm::erase_tail_copy().

Example 5.4. Searching for substrings with boost::algorithm::find_first()
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  boost::iterator_range<std::string::iterator> r = find_first(s, "C++");
  std::cout << r << '\n';
  r = find_first(s, "xyz");
  std::cout << r << '\n';
}

Functions such as boost::algorithm::find_first(), boost::algorithm::find_last(), boost::algorithm::find_nth(), boost::algorithm::find_head() and boost::algorithm::find_tail() are available to find strings within strings.

All of these functions return a pair of iterators of type boost::iterator_range. This class originates from Boost.Range, which implements a range concept based on the iterator concept. Because the operator operator<< is overloaded for boost::iterator_range, the result of the individual search algorithm can be written directly to standard output. Example 5.4 prints C++ for the first result and an empty string for the second one.

Example 5.5. Concatenating strings with boost::algorithm::join()
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <vector>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::vector<std::string> v{"Boost", "C++", "Libraries"};
  std::cout << join(v, " ") << '\n';
}

A container of strings is passed as the first parameter to the function boost::algorithm::join(), which concatenates them separated by the second parameter. Example 5.5 will output Boost C++ Libraries.

Example 5.6. Algorithms to replace characters in a string
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  std::cout << replace_first_copy(s, "+", "-") << '\n';
  std::cout << replace_nth_copy(s, "+", 0, "-") << '\n';
  std::cout << replace_last_copy(s, "+", "-") << '\n';
  std::cout << replace_all_copy(s, "+", "-") << '\n';
  std::cout << replace_head_copy(s, 5, "BOOST") << '\n';
  std::cout << replace_tail_copy(s, 9, "LIBRARIES") << '\n';
}

Like the functions for searching strings or removing characters from strings, Boost.StringAlgorithms also provides functions for replacing substrings within a string. These include the following functions: boost::algorithm::replace_first_copy(), boost::algorithm::replace_nth_copy(), boost::algorithm::replace_last_copy(), boost::algorithm::replace_all_copy(), boost::algorithm::replace_head_copy() and boost::algorithm::replace_tail_copy(). They can be applied in the same way as the functions for searching and removing, except they require an additional parameter – the replacement string (see Example 5.6).

Example 5.7. Algorithms to trim strings
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "\t Boost C++ Libraries \t";
  std::cout << "_" << trim_left_copy(s) << "_\n";
  std::cout << "_" << trim_right_copy(s) << "_\n";
  std::cout << "_" << trim_copy(s) << "_\n";
}

To remove spaces on either end of a string, use boost::algorithm::trim_left_copy(), boost::algorithm::trim_right_copy() and boost::algorithm::trim_copy() (see Example 5.7). The global locale determines which characters are considered to be spaces.

Boost.StringAlgorithms lets you provide a predicate as an additional parameter for different functions to determine which characters of the string the function is applied to. The versions with predicates are: boost::algorithm::trim_right_copy_if(), boost::algorithm::trim_left_copy_if(), and boost::algorithm::trim_copy_if().

Example 5.8. Creating predicates with boost::algorithm::is_any_of()
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "--Boost C++ Libraries--";
  std::cout << trim_left_copy_if(s, is_any_of("-")) << '\n';
  std::cout << trim_right_copy_if(s, is_any_of("-")) << '\n';
  std::cout << trim_copy_if(s, is_any_of("-")) << '\n';
}

Example 5.8 uses another function called boost::algorithm::is_any_of(), which is a helper function to create a predicate that checks whether a certain character – passed as parameter to is_any_of() – exists in a string. With boost::algorithm::is_any_of(), the characters for trimming a string can be specified. Example 5.8 uses the hyphen character.

Boost.StringAlgorithms provides many helper functions that return commonly used predicates.

Example 5.9. Creating predicates with boost::algorithm::is_digit()
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "123456789Boost C++ Libraries123456789";
  std::cout << trim_left_copy_if(s, is_digit()) << '\n';
  std::cout << trim_right_copy_if(s, is_digit()) << '\n';
  std::cout << trim_copy_if(s, is_digit()) << '\n';
}

The predicate returned by boost::algorithm::is_digit() tests whether a character is numeric. In Example 5.9, boost::algorithm::is_digit() is used to remove digits from the string s.

Boost.StringAlgorithms also provides helper functions to check whether a character is uppercase or lowercase: boost::algorithm::is_upper() and boost::algorithm::is_lower(). All of these functions use the global locale by default, unless you pass in a different locale as a parameter.

Besides the predicates that verify individual characters of a string, Boost.StringAlgorithms also offers functions that work with strings instead (see Example 5.10).

Example 5.10. Algorithms to compare strings with others
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  std::cout.setf(std::ios::boolalpha);
  std::cout << starts_with(s, "Boost") << '\n';
  std::cout << ends_with(s, "Libraries") << '\n';
  std::cout << contains(s, "C++") << '\n';
  std::cout << lexicographical_compare(s, "Boost") << '\n';
}

The boost::algorithm::starts_with(), boost::algorithm::ends_with(), boost::algorithm::contains(), and boost::algorithm::lexicographical_compare() functions compare two individual strings.

Example 5.11 introduces a function that splits a string into smaller parts.

Example 5.11. Splitting strings with boost::algorithm::split()
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <vector>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  std::vector<std::string> v;
  split(v, s, is_space());
  std::cout << v.size() << '\n';
}

With boost::algorithm::split(), a given string can be split based on a delimiter. The substrings are stored in a container. The function requires as its third parameter a predicate that tests each character and checks whether the string should be split at the given position. Example 5.11 uses the helper function boost::algorithm::is_space() to create a predicate that splits the string at every space character.

Many of the functions introduced in this chapter have versions that ignore the case of the string. These versions typically have the same name, except for a leading i. For example, the equivalent function to boost::algorithm::erase_all_copy() is boost::algorithm::ierase_all_copy().

Finally, many functions of Boost.StringAlgorithms also support regular expressions. Example 5.12 uses the function boost::algorithm::find_regex() to search for a regular expression.

Example 5.12. Searching strings with boost::algorithm::find_regex()
#include <boost/algorithm/string.hpp>
#include <boost/algorithm/string/regex.hpp>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

using namespace boost::algorithm;

int main()
{
  std::string s = "Boost C++ Libraries";
  boost::iterator_range<std::string::iterator> r =
    find_regex(s, boost::regex{"\\w\\+\\+"});
  std::cout << r << '\n';
}

In order to use the regular expression, the program accesses a class called boost::regex, which is presented in Chapter 8.

Example 5.12 writes C++ to standard output.