On the other hand, the novice AWK programmer can study a wealth of practical programs that emphasize the power of AWK’s basic idioms: data-driven control flow, pattern matching with regular expressions, and associative arrays. The programs in this book make clear that an AWK program is typically much smaller and faster to develop than a counterpart written in C.
Consequently, there is often a payoff to prototyping an algorithm or design in AWK to get it running quickly and expose problems early.
Often, the interpreted performance is adequate and the AWK prototype becomes the product. Thirteen years ago I wrote: “If you use AWK or want to learn how, then read this book.” True then, and still true today.
The circumstances started a couple of years earlier.
I was working at a new job and noticed an unplugged Unix computer sitting in the corner. However, a couple of days later, it was running, and I was and the one-and-only user. Weinberger’s ’s simple programming paradigm—find a pattern in the input and then perform an action—often reduced complex or tedious data manipulations to a few lines of code.
That day, I began the transition from statistician to Unix programmer. I was excited to try my hand at programming in AWK. A few days after my posting, I got a friendly email from Arnold introducing himself.
On one of many trips to the library or bookstore in search of books on Unix, I found the gray AWK book, a.k.a. He suggested we share design and algorithms and attached a draft of the POSIX standard so that I could update .
Frankly, if our roles had been reversed, I would not have been so open and we probably would have never met. He is an AWK expert’s AWK expert and a genuinely nice person.