Exercise 1.20 - detab, replaces tabs with spaces

Question

Write a program detab that replaces tabs in the input with the proper number of blanks to space to the next tab stop. Assume a fixed set of tab stops, say every n columns. Should n be a variable or a symbolic parameter?

Solution

/* Write a Program detab,which replaces tabs in the input with a proper 
  number of blanks to spaces */

#include<stdio.h>
#define TABINC 8

int main(void)
{
  int nb,pos,c;

  nb = 0;
  pos = 1;

  while((c=getchar())!=EOF)
  {
    if( c == '\t')
    {
      nb = TABINC - (( pos - 1) % TABINC);

      while( nb > 0)
      {
        putchar('#');
        ++pos;
        --nb;
      }
    }
    else if( c == '\n')
    {
      putchar(c);
      pos = 1;
    }
    else
    {
      putchar(c);
      ++pos;
    }
  }

  return 0;
}

Run this

Please use a local c compiler to run this program.gcc

Explanation

We declare TABINC as 8 in #define TABINC 8 as the number of spaces which make a TAB.

We start counting the pos from 1 for every new line and we increment pos for all the characters and print the character, which are not tabs. This is demonstrated by the else statements in our program.

When we hit a tab t character, then we need to determine how many spaces we need to replace the t with.

For e.g.:

hello   | I press a tab and reach |
hello###| It should be substibuted with 3 #,

The way 3 # is calculated by TABINC - length of (‘hello’) that is 8 - 5 = 3.

This explains well, if hello is the starting word. The way to determine the tabs to spaces later in the line is by keeping track of the number of characters in the line (that is variable pos in our program.)

For e.g

hello   world   is      great
hello###world###is######great

To determine the number of tabs to spaces between is and great

We track the pos till s, we encounter the tab position at be 19.

nb = TABINC - (( pos - 1) % TABINC);
nb = TABINC - ((19 - 1))  % TABINC);
nb = TABINC - (18 % TABINC);
nb = TABINC - (18 % 8);
nb = TABINC - 2;
nb = 8 - 2;
nb = 6

Once we determine the nb, we simply print # character to denote a visible space and increment the position each character.

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