I have a text file that contains something like this:

eval_config: {
  <variable number of lines and contents>

So how can I match this? Using:

sed -i 's/eval_config: {.*\+}/replacement_text/g' filename seems to stop at newlines.

  • Regular expressions generally do not match across newlines. Is your file in any particular format (JSON for example), in that case using a parser for that format will be the most robust way of modifying the contents.
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 8:12
  • It's in pbtxt format
    – Austin
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 8:15
  • Have you looked into existing Python parsers for protocol buffer files? developers.google.com/protocol-buffers/docs/pythontutorial
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


example testfile with multiline

eval_config: {
  Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Maybe try

sed ':again;$!N;$!b again; s/eval_config: {[^}]*}/\eval_config: {replacement text}/g'  testfile
  • Thanks. If you happen to be familiar with jupyter notebooks, any idea why when using !sed ... this breaks replacing testfile with {py_variable_path_name}? Forgot to mention that the replacement text and filename are python variables, so this works excluding that info.
    – Austin
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 3:54

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