When does ColdFusion's Trim function not trim?

This post is more than 2 years old.

Here is a fun little quiz for you. Given a variable S (a number) that you output to screen with dashes like so:


If you see this:

-8 -

then what would you expect to happen after you trim it? If you said 8, than you would be right.... most of the time. Assume you did trim it:


And you still saw a space? What then? My buddy Todd ran into this. The first thing that came to mind was special characters. I suggested looping over every character and printing out the character code like so:

<cfloop index="x" from="1" to="#len(s)#"> <cfset c = mid(s, x, 1)> <cfoutput>#c#=#asc(c)#<br/></cfoutput> </cfloop>

When Todd did this he saw:


Yep - a special character. There are a variety of ways to handle this, including the awesomely named deMoronize at CFLib, but in this case Todd needed to strip out not replace the bad character. I would have used a val() but he needed to look out for ranges as well (1-2) and therefore used a isNumeric check beforehand. I know I've blogged about this before but it definitely still trips us all out so watch out for it.

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Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by andy matthews posted on 2/7/2011 at 9:23 PM

Why on earth wouldn't you use a regex to remove everything but numbers?


Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 2/7/2011 at 9:30 PM

In Todd's specific case, he wanted to handle "1-2" differently, but outside of that, yes, that would work too.

Comment 3 by JD posted on 2/7/2011 at 10:31 PM

@andy, @ray: you guys can shave now...the super bowl is over.

Comment 4 by Raymond Camden posted on 2/7/2011 at 10:33 PM

I'm not shaving until a certain event happens, which may never happen, so, deal with it. ;)

Comment 5 by SNH posted on 2/8/2011 at 1:24 AM

Character 160 is the non-breaking space, and near universally ignored by trim, rtrim, ltrim, squeeze, and other text commands in a variety of applications. Most of the time have to use a substitute (or replace) command prior to trimming to get it out.

Comment 6 by andy matthews posted on 2/8/2011 at 9:46 AM

@ray, hoping to get selected as Saint Nick in the Lafayette Players production of A Christmas Story?

Comment 7 by Raymond Camden posted on 2/8/2011 at 5:03 PM

Heh, close...

Comment 8 by Larry C. Lyons posted on 2/9/2011 at 1:47 AM

I dunno Ray, you're starting to look like an extra from a Civil War movie. You'd fit right in next summer when they redo the First Battle of Manassas.


Comment 9 by Alejandro Hombrados posted on 1/3/2013 at 1:23 AM

I tried Andy's solution and what used to be giving me
' 3091470'
now gives me
and val gives me zero.

Comment 10 by Alejandro Hombrados posted on 1/3/2013 at 1:32 AM

Nevermind it was a XMLObject :) coldfusion was just trying to display it as a string. So i thought it was one. sorry for double post.