Awk is awesome!

So I was trying to selectively execute a whole bunch of rosbags for a little bit of labelling, and decided to try out gawk a bit to help automate the loading process, rather than to manually type in the path name to each bag file. I was earlier using a shell script to run through every file ./*.bag and calling the variable from rxbag. However, when I wanted to resume my work I had to resume going through the files midway, and so had to use some pattern matching in there. Which is where awk came into the picture.

Anyway, handy tip – after some searching I finally found the required call, which turned out to be, not surprisingly, system(), to call external programs. But I had to send in the matched patterns as an argument to rxbag, so this is what I did

awk '/2012-05-17/ {system("rxbag " "\""$0"\"")}' ds.txt

So 2012-05-17 is the regex pattern I was looking for (The single quotes are to stop bash from reading into the stuff within), ds.txt contained a simple piped output of the list of files in my directory (ls *.bag > ds.txt) The fancy part is in the system call. Now since I had to send in a variable as an argument ($0 is the first line/field of the awk output) within the double quoted system call, I had to use the fancy double quote escape characters you see there "\"". And that was it! awk calls the code within the brackets for every match of the regex pattern.

Neat, eh?

Talking about things neat, here’s a fun video of the project I’m working on at the RI :D