user788171 user788171 - 10 months ago 50
C++ Question

c++ fastest way to read only last line of text file?

I would like to read only the last line of a text file (I'm on UNIX, can use Boost). All the methods I know require scanning through the entire file to get the last line which is not efficient at all. Is there an efficient way to get only the last line?

Also, I need this to be robust enough that it works even if the text file in question is constantly being appended to by another process.

Answer Source

Use seekg to jump to the end of the file, then read back until you find the first newline. Below is some sample code off the top of my head using MSVC.

#include <iostream>
#include <fstream>
#include <sstream>

using namespace std;

int main()
    string filename = "test.txt";
    ifstream fin;;
    if(fin.is_open()) {
        fin.seekg(-1,ios_base::end);                // go to one spot before the EOF

        bool keepLooping = true;
        while(keepLooping) {
            char ch;
            fin.get(ch);                            // Get current byte's data

            if((int)fin.tellg() <= 1) {             // If the data was at or before the 0th byte
                fin.seekg(0);                       // The first line is the last line
                keepLooping = false;                // So stop there
            else if(ch == '\n') {                   // If the data was a newline
                keepLooping = false;                // Stop at the current position.
            else {                                  // If the data was neither a newline nor at the 0 byte
                fin.seekg(-2,ios_base::cur);        // Move to the front of that data, then to the front of the data before it

        string lastLine;            
        getline(fin,lastLine);                      // Read the current line
        cout << "Result: " << lastLine << '\n';     // Display it


    return 0;

And below is a test file. It succeeds with empty, one-line, and multi-line data in the text file.

This is the first line.
Some stuff.
Some stuff.
Some stuff.
This is the last line.