Forum OpenACS Q&A: Translation of vars within string

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Ok, here is a simple one that I don't get...

I have a string that I store in a database
field and want to interpert the variables
within that string when rendered on a webpage.

Say I have this string which
I just got out of the db as $hello

    Hi, My name is $first_names last_name.

When I put $hello into the output html
within a tcl page, the variables within it
don't get interperted.

I want the result to be:

    Hi, My name is Bob OConnor

Instead of:

    Hi, My name is $first_names $last_name.

Thanks for your help!
-Bob

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Posted by Don Baccus on
Check out Tcl's "subst" command ...
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Posted by David Walker on
I've never noticed the subst command.  I'm glad to know about it.

I'm using ns_adp_parse with the format "Hi, My name is
<%=$first_names%> <%=$last_name%>."

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Posted by MaineBob OConnor on

Ok, in tclsh I can

% set x 1
1
% set y "you are the $x!"
you are the 1!
% subst {$y}
you are the 1!
% set y
you are the 1!

This works but so does set, but within
my tcl program and using this format:

<p>[subst $y]

No substitution is done...

And I want to avoid David's solution <%=$first_names%> because I want "mere users" to be able to enter a few variables in a text string that gets stored in the db and later select and substitute with the current value of, for instance $name. in the string to render on the page.... (clear?)

-Bob

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Posted by David Walker on
This was successful for me.
set x {my name is $name}
set name David

ns_write [subst $x]
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Posted by Michael A. Cleverly on
And I want to avoid David's solution <%=$first_names%> because I want "mere users" to be able to enter a few variables in a text string that gets stored in the db and later select and substitute with the current value of, for instance $name. in the string to render on the page.... (clear?)
If that's the case, make sure you read the man page for subst , specifically the -nocommands switch. Otherwise some malicious user could save as their string: "Goodbye $first_names $last_name. [exec rm -r -f /]. Have a nice day. [ns_shutdown]", which probably wouldn't be something you'd want.

And, just for kicks, say you only wanted certain variables to be substituted. (So that $first_name doesn't blow up.) You could use Tcl 8's very handy string map:

set html [string map [list $first_names $first_names $last_name $last_names $foo $foo] $user_string_from_database]
(I hope the backslashes above make it or the code will look positively stupid. :-)

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Posted by David Walker on
Here. With the backslashes escaped. (and $last_names changed to $last_name)
(ignore the email version of this message)
set html [string map [list $first_names $first_names $last_name $last_name $foo $foo] $user_string_from_database]
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Posted by MaineBob OConnor on

David, it was my typo (in the stuffed var names and yes,

[subst $y]


does work, thanks Don. I was testing this in a proc in /tcl and this process is slow because aolserver must be restarted each time.

I was also thinking that giving users access to vars was perhaps a bad idea. It seems like undefined vars don't throw an error if in a /tcl/ proc. But Michael has made a *most* convincing security argument. String maps look like a great solution and maybe I'll use something other than a $... In another thread Jerry Asher suggested this format ::name::. I was thinking maybe [name] would work as something simple... that would be [name] in the string map. That's one backslash depending on how you see this message!

-Bob