Programmer's Notebook

VBScript Split Function

The VBScript Split function takes a string and returns it in an array broken up by the delimiter of your choosing. The basic usage is: somearray = split(expression), where expression is the string you need to parse. Since split defaults to using a blank space as a delimiter, in its basic form you could use split to divide a sentence into individual words. Note that somearray lacks parentheses both when calling the function and when declaring the variable. It is by its nature a one-dimensional array with a number of elements equal to the number of items return from the parse.

Here is a sample which splits a sentence into individual words and then echoes them back in a message box just to verify that the parse took place. Also, to format the output a little and further confirm that each word became a separate variable, I used the constant vbCRLF to add a carriage return / line feed between each word in the echo. (The CR LF in text files is usually inserted by the user hitting the "enter" key. If you are typing in Notepad and hit "enter," the invisible two characters generated put a hard break to your line and wrap you around to the next.)

Example 1

You can run this sample yourself by pasting the above code into Windows Notepad and saving the file with a *.vbs extenstion (i.e. sample.vbs).

If you do run the sample you'll notice that the last word parsed still has a period attached. Had this been a real world coding problem we would certainly have to deal with that period - but for now we'll just let it ride.

The full syntax for split is: Split(expression[,delimiter[,count[,compare]]])

You can use the optional delimiter parameter to specify a delimiter other than a blank space. One of the most common delimiters would be a comma, as used in the ubiquitous comma separated value (csv) format. Such csv files are flat file databases in which fields are separated by commas and records are separated by carriage return / line feeds.

While it's not exactly a csv parser, in the following example I use split to parse a line of text delimited by commas rather than blank spaces.

Example 2

The only coding difference between the first and second examples is the addition of the delimiter parameter "," .

The remaining optional parameters are count and compare. Count returns the number of substrings to be returned. The default of -1 returns every substring. Compare gives you the option of doing either a binary or case-insensitive textual comparison. In short, if you want "ABC" to be equal to "abc" then use 1, if you want "ABC" and "abc" not to be equal then use 0.

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