Is there a way to grep a log and find text between the log entry delimeters? Our log file separates the line entry with characters "-------" So when I search the text word I want all the lines before and after the delimeters in the log.

Sample log


    r132279 | USERID | 2014-04-30 12:59:09 -0700 (Wed, 30 Apr 2014) | 3 lines
    Removed unused "Calculated Fields" column entry.
    Jira ID: JIRA-977


In the above i would Grep the word Fields but want all the lines between the "----" lines


If you know how big the record is, then you can output additional lines of context before (-B) and after (-A) the matching line e.g.

grep -A2 -B2 'Fields' sample.log

or for context both before and after the match line

grep -C3 'Fields' sample.log

As far as I know, the only way to do a true multiline match (rather than a single line match plus context) in GNU grep is by using the PCRE regex mode (-P) with the -z flag to prevent breaking on newlines. For example, you could try

grep -zPo '(\n-+\n)\K(.|\n)+?Fields(.|\n)+?(?=\n-+\n)'

which does a non-greedy match of the string Fields surrounded by any characters OR newlines, provided it is bookended by the newline-hyphens-newline delimiters. An equivalent expression in pcregrep is

pcregrep -Mo '(\n-+\n)\K(.|\n)+?Fields(.|\n)+?(?=\n-+\n)'

Another option for this kind of record-structured data is awk: in particular, GNU awk allows a regular expression to be used for the internal record separator RS e.g.

$ gawk -vRS='\n-+\n' '/Fields/ {print}' sample.log

r132279 | USERID | 2014-04-30 12:59:09 -0700 (Wed, 30 Apr 2014) | 3 lines

Removed unused "Calculated Fields" column entry.

Jira ID: JIRA-977
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  • gawk worked well . But when there is no DESCRIPTION field it outputs all lines. Thanks – user3609755 May 12 '14 at 19:27

A Perl solution similar to the gawk one in steeldriver's answer in case gawk isn't available:

perl -ne 'BEGIN{$/= "-"x72 . "\n"} chomp and print if /Fields/' log_file

Replace 72 by the actual number of dashes in your delimiter.

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  • Nice! I must make an effort to learn some perl - I was trying to figure out a way to do a multiline match with grep -zP but couldn't – steeldriver May 12 '14 at 19:46
  • @steeldriver I have seen people around here refer to a tool called pcregrep that is capable of doing multiline greps. – Joseph R. May 12 '14 at 19:48
  • Thanks, I have added tentative grep -zP and pcregrep solutions - feel free to improve them since I only know just about enough perl to be dangerous! – steeldriver May 12 '14 at 23:26

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