coledot coledot - 2 months ago 6
C Question

How do I trim leading/trailing whitespace in a standard way?

Is there a clean, preferably standard method of trimming leading and trailing whitespace from a string in C? I'd roll my own, but I would think this is a common problem with an equally common solution.

Answer

If you can modify the string:

// Note: This function returns a pointer to a substring of the original string.
// If the given string was allocated dynamically, the caller must not overwrite
// that pointer with the returned value, since the original pointer must be
// deallocated using the same allocator with which it was allocated.  The return
// value must NOT be deallocated using free() etc.
char *trimwhitespace(char *str)
{
  char *end;

  // Trim leading space
  while(isspace(*str)) str++;

  if(*str == 0)  // All spaces?
    return str;

  // Trim trailing space
  end = str + strlen(str) - 1;
  while(end > str && isspace(*end)) end--;

  // Write new null terminator
  *(end+1) = 0;

  return str;
}

If you can't modify the string, then you can use basically the same method:

// Stores the trimmed input string into the given output buffer, which must be
// large enough to store the result.  If it is too small, the output is
// truncated.
size_t trimwhitespace(char *out, size_t len, const char *str)
{
  if(len == 0)
    return 0;

  const char *end;
  size_t out_size;

  // Trim leading space
  while(isspace(*str)) str++;

  if(*str == 0)  // All spaces?
  {
    *out = 0;
    return 1;
  }

  // Trim trailing space
  end = str + strlen(str) - 1;
  while(end > str && isspace(*end)) end--;
  end++;

  // Set output size to minimum of trimmed string length and buffer size minus 1
  out_size = (end - str) < len-1 ? (end - str) : len-1;

  // Copy trimmed string and add null terminator
  memcpy(out, str, out_size);
  out[out_size] = 0;

  return out_size;
}
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