Can't use wildcards in INSTR

Posted on 2002-07-28
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I need to search text files for phone numbers.  Basically I want to look for (###)###-####, recognize that as a phone number and pick it out of the text file.  I try this in INSTR but it doesn't seem to be accepting wildcards (or I'm using them incorrectly).  The LIKE operator works but only returns true or false, it doesn't tell me where in the text file it found the match.  Any ideas?
Question by:michaelwarden
LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Ryan Chong
ID: 7184521
Actually INSTR function will perform as wildcard LIKE:


strPhoneNum = "(607)1156-8896"

strSearch = "15"

iPos = Instr(1,strPhoneNum, strSearch)

iPos will return a number greater than 0 (that's the first position of search string) if the search string find in the whole string.

Expert Comment

ID: 7184539
I think what he's looking for is a substring like...

This can be achieved by bracketing the required strings...
  first find "(203), then test for "-1234" in the remainder of the primary string.

If the substring was "(203)???-1234" (i.e a fixed number of chars), then rather than testing the 'rest' of the string, test for an exact match at the known position of "(203)" -plus 5 (for (203)) and  plus 3 (for the three wildcard) characters.

This could be formed into a funciton fairly easily.

Accepted Solution

mcoop earned 75 total points
ID: 7184578
Oh - and to refer to the actual example  (###)###-####

I would probably look in a slightly different way....

Searh for the ( and ) first (least likely to occur), then the block of 4 numerics, then walk backwards to check the area code and exchange prefix digits

Of course you also should consider the fact that some people don't put the punctuation where it should be (capitalisation, hyphens and spaces etc)  so perhaps it is worth pre-processing and index that file against the source file  to remove all ambiguities, only then scan for the formatted number strings, and only then refer back to the original file to extract the entry as actually keyed in... (if that's really necessary)

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Expert Comment

ID: 7184812
Use Microsoft VBScript Regular Expressions

Sub FindPhoneNumber(ByVal inputString)
    Dim regex, match, matches
    Set regex = New RegExp
    regex.Pattern = "\(\d{3}\)\d{3}-\d{4}"
    regex.Global = True
    Set matches = regex.Execute(inputString)
    For Each match In matches
        Debug.Print match.Value
End Sub

Expert Comment

ID: 7185141

Where are the references for the RegExp object ?
I've seen them before, but can't remember who/where I saw it used...  I also believe that there may be some limitations of RegExp that will thwart michaelwarden's application...

Author Comment

ID: 7186217
i was hoping there was an easier way, but mcoop pointed me in the right direction and i have it working now, thanks a lot for all the posts.

Expert Comment

ID: 7186575

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