Global namespace/String manipulation

< Global namespace

This library provides generic functions for string manipulation, such as finding and extracting substrings, and pattern matching. When indexing a string in Lua, the first character is at position 1 (not at 0, as in some other languages). Indices are allowed to be negative and are interpreted as indexing backwards, from the end of the string. Thus, the last character is at position -1, and so on.

The string library provides all its functions inside the table string. It also sets a metatable for strings where the __index field points to the string table. Therefore, you can use the string functions in object-oriented style. For instance, string.byte(s, i) can be written as s:byte(i), and string.byte("literal", i) can be written as ("literal"):byte(i). Parameters written in brackets are optional.


Main article: String patterns

Patterns are the most useful things in string manipulation. The string library would, for the most part, be useless without them. They are used to "match" (that is, find or recognize) text in another string. Patterns are, in essence, just strings. What makes them different from ordinary strings is that they use a special combination of characters, which are interpreted in a certain way. Patterns are generally used with functions in the string library such as string.match and string.gsub.


string.byte (s [, i = 1 [, j = i]])

Returns ascii values of the characters s[i], s[i+1], all the way until s[j]. The default value for i is 1; the default value for j is i.

Note that numerical codes are not necessarily portable across platforms.

print( string.byte("d") )
print( string.byte("abc", 1, 3) )
97 98 99


string.char (···)

Receives zero or more integers. Returns a string with length equal to the number of arguments, in which each character is the ascii representation equal to its corresponding number.

Note that numerical codes are not necessarily portable across platforms.

print( string.char(97, 98, 99, 100) )


string.dump (function)

Note that this function only works in Studio. It does not work in game servers or game clients, instead returning an empty bytecode chunk.

Returns a string containing a binary representation of function, which could be used by loadstring to return a copy of function. string.dump was commonly used in script obfuscation before roblox disabled loadstring being able to work with bytecode.

function f() 
    print "hello, world" 
s = string.dump(f)


string.find (s, pattern [, init = 1 [, plain = false]])

Looks for the first match of pattern in string s. If a match is found, then string.find returns the locations (1, 3, etc.) of s where this occurrence starts and ends; otherwise, it returns nil. A third, optional numerical argument, init, specifies where to start the search in the string; its default value is 1 and may be negative. A value of true as a fourth, optional argument, plain, turns off the pattern matching facilities, so the function does a plain "find substring" operation, with no characters in pattern being considered "magic". Note that if plain is given, then init must be given as well.

If substring has captures, then in a successful match the captured values are also returned, after the two locations.

print( string.find("blahblah", "bla"))
print( string.find("roblox and lua", "(%w+) and (%w+)") )
1 3
1 14 roblox lua


string.format (formatstring, ···)

Uses the first argument as a template into which the following arguments are inserted, using format string to convert values to strings.

print( string.format("letter 65 is %c",65) );
letter 65 is A


string.len (s)

Receives s (a string) and returns its length. The empty string "" has length 0. Embedded zeros (the null terminator) are counted, so "a\0bc\0" has length 5.

print( string.len("") )
print( string.len("a") )
print( string.len("ab") ) 
print( string.len("abc") )


string.lower (s)

Receives s (a string) and returns a copy of s with all uppercase letters changed to lowercase. All other characters are left unchanged.

print(string.lower ("Hi Mom!"))
hi mom!


string.match (s, pattern [, init])

Looks for the first match of a string pattern in string s. If it finds one, then match returns the captures from pattern; otherwise, it returns nil. If pattern specifies no captures, then the whole match is returned. A third, optional numerical argument init specifies where to start the search; its default value is 1 and may be negative.

print( string.match("I like pepperoni pizza", "p%w+") )

In the above example, the p%w+ represented a string that started with a p and goes until the end of a word.


string.rep (s, n)

Returns a string that is the combination of n copies of the string s.

print( string.rep("Blarg, ", 4) )
Blarg, Blarg, Blarg, Blarg,


string.reverse (s)

Returns a string that is the string s reversed.

print( string.reverse("!moM ,olleH") )
Hello, Mom!


string.sub (s, i [, j])

Returns the substring of s that starts at i and continues until j; i and j may be negative. If j is absent, then it is assumed to be equal to the length of s. In particular, the call string.sub(s,1,j) returns s until as many characters as j, and string.sub(s, -i) returns a suffix of s with length i.

print( string.sub("Hi Mom!", 1, 4) )
print( string.sub("Hi Mom!", 2) )
Hi M
i Mom!


string.upper (s)

Receives a string and returns a copy of this string with all lowercase letters changed to uppercase. All other characters are left unchanged.

print( string.upper("Hi Mom!") )


string.gmatch (s, pattern)

Returns an iterator function that, each time it is called, returns the next captures from pattern over string s. If pattern specifies no captures, then the whole match is produced in each call.

As an example, the following loop:

s = "hello world from Lua"
for w in string.gmatch(s, "%a+") do

will iterate over all the words from string s, printing one per line. The next example collects all pairs index=value from the given string into a table:

t = {}
s = "from=world, to=Lua"
for k, v in string.gmatch(s, "(%w+)=(%w+)") do -- k and v are the returned captures
    t[k] = v
world	Lua

For this function, a '^' at the start of pattern does not work as an anchor, as this would prevent the iteration. The following examples shows why this is true:

local t={}
for matchedValue in string.gmatch("alphabet and numbers 1234-4321", "a") do -- Search for a in that string
    table.insert(t, matchedValue)
print("The letter a was found " .. #t.." times.")
The letter a was found 3 times.
for x in string.gmatch("Numbers", "b") do -- Search for b in Numbers


string.gsub (s, pattern, repl [, n])

Returns a copy of s in which all (or the first n, if given) occurrences of pattern have been replaced by replacement string repl, which may be a string, a table, or a function. string.gsub also returns, as its second value, the total number of matches that occurred.

If repl is a string, then its value is used for replacement. The character % works as an escape character: any sequence in repl of the form %n, with n between 1 and 9, stands for the value of the n-th captured substring. The sequence %0 stands for the whole match.

If repl is a table, then the table is queried for every match, using the first capture as the key; if pattern specifies no captures, then the whole match is used as the key.

If repl is a function, then this function is called every time a match occurs, with all captured substrings passed as arguments, in order; if pattern specifies no captures, then the whole match is passed as the sole argument.

If the value returned by the table query or by the function call is a string or a number, then it is used as the replacement string; otherwise, if it is false or nil, then there is no replacement (that is, the original match is kept in the string).

Here are some examples using plain character replacement:

print( string.gsub("hello world", "hello", "goodbye") )
print( string.gsub("Bonjour!", "Bonjour", "Hello") )
print( string.gsub("Avada Kedavra", "Avada Kedavra", "Abracadabra") )
print( string.gsub("I like to munch numbers 1234", "1234", "and words.") )
goodbye world
I like to munch numbers and words.

Those were all examples using plain character replacements. Here are some using patterns:

print( string.gsub("hello world from Lua", "(%w+)%s*(%w+)", "%2 %1") )
print( string.gsub("I found an imaginary hex number: F243BC234AD234Ei", "%x+i", "Yeah right. That's not real.") )
print( string.gsub("home = $HOME, user = $USER", "%$(%w+)", {USER="Merlin", HOME="Camelot"}) )
print( string.gsub("$name-$version.tar.gz", "%$(%w+)", {name="lua", version="5.1"}) )
print( string.gsub("4+5 = $return 4+5$", "%$(.-)%$", function (s)
    return loadstring(s)()
end) )
world hello Lua from
I found an imaginary hex number: Yeah right. That's not real.
home = Camelot, user = Merlin
4+5 = 9