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David D. Levine
Last year fellow Portland writer and Analog Mafia member Mark Niemann-Ross asked me to write and record a course for his employer, video training company lynda.com, on the AWK programming language. I recorded it in April, and the finished course, AWK Essential Training, is now available to all lynda.com members. If you aren't a member, you can watch the first six videos in the course for free at http://www.lynda.com/Linux-tutorials/AWK-Essential-Training/162719-2.html.

Awk2Topics covered in the course include:
  • What is AWK?
  • Writing an AWK program
  • Working with records, fields, patterns, and actions
  • Specifying field and record separators with variables
  • Using built-in and user-defined variables
  • Building control structures
  • Formatting output
  • Manipulating string data with functions
  • Scripting with AWK


"So what is this AWK thing," you might ask, "and why on Earth should I care about it?" AWK is a tool and programming language for manipulating text files. For example, if you have a file of names and addresses and want to find out how many of them are from each US state, you can do that with just a few lines of AWK code.

AWK is older and more limited than similar but more modern tools like PERL and PYTHON, but its simplicity makes it easier to learn. Also, AWK is preinstalled on most UNIX-based systems, including Linux and Mac OS X, so if you use any of these machines AWK is right there whenever you need it. It's also available for Windows.

I actually love AWK and use it just about every day, so I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to help people learn about its capabilities. AWK Essential Training went live yesterday and has already been seen by 303 viewers in 47 countries.

My experience with lynda.com so far has been both fun and profitable, and I look forward to recording more courses for them in the future. If you are interested in doing something like this yourself, please contact Mark Niemann-Ross at mnr@lynda.com. He is especially interested in finding authors who are women or people of color. If you have expertise in any technical or business field, have good English writing and speaking skills, and enjoy helping people learn how to do things, I encourage you to give it a try.