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Manual Reference Pages  -  NONSENSE (6)


nonsense - generates random text from datafiles and templates


File Formats
See Also


nonsense [-b bullet] [-dDeF] [-f data_file] [-n number] [-t template_file] [-p] [tag ...]


Nonsense generates random (and sometime humorous) text from datafiles and templates using a very simple, recursive grammar. It’s like having a million monkeys sitting in front of a million typewriters, without having to feed or clean up after them. From fake Slashdot headlines to absurd college courses to buzzword bingo cards, nonsense is a good way to waste time.

The following options are available:
-b bullet
  Specify a "bullet" go in front of each item.
-d Debug mode (shows each substitution)
-D Verbose debug mode (shows each substitution and the result)
-e Disable direct eval()’s
-f data_file
  Specify a data file to load in. Use multiple -f options to include additional files. The file is always loaded.
-F Load all *.data files.
-n number
  Repeat n times.
-t template_file
  Use a template file. The markup in this file will be processed and the result output to stdout.
-p Separate each item with a blank line.

The -d and -D options are mutually exclusive.

Thanks to contributions by
.An Fred Hirsch Aq , nonsense can also be executed as a CGI script. Details are in /usr/local/share/doc/nonsense/README.


  nonsense data files. Any files specified with the -f option are found by looking in the current directory and then this directory. The -F option loads all files in this directory.
  nonsense template files. Any file specified with the -t option is found by looking in the current directory and then this directory.


Bellow is a list of things that nonsense can output with the data files included.

For a realistic simulation of the Slashdot homepage:

nonsense -t slashdot.html.template

For a buzzword-enhanced mission statement that only a "Pointy Haired Boss" could love:

nonsense -f

For a PHB-inspired business plan (in HTML):

nonsense -t bizplan.html.template -f

For a person’s name:

nonsense Person

For a long list of random fake e-mail addresses suitable for sending to a spammer’s e-mail harvester:

nonsense FakeEmail -n 1000

For a buzzword bingo card (in HTML) to print out for your next meeting:

nonsense -t bingo.html.template

For a listing of absurd college classes (these might be offensive to liberal-arts professors):

nonsense -f -n 20

For a listing of political organizations (again, these might be offensive to certain people):

nonsense OrgPolitical -n 10

For a listing of stupid laws that may or may not really exist:

nonsense -f -n 10

For a list of Open Source programs as they would appear on Freshmeat:

nonsense -f FreshmeatApp

For the resume of a random geek (in HTML):

nonsense -f -t resume.html.template

For a news headline:

nonsense -f Headline

For the front page of a newspaper (in HTML):

nonsense -f -t newspaper.html.template

For a cheap replacement for the fortune(6) program:

nonsense -F Fortune

To produce a file containing 100 items suitable for feeding to fortune(6):

nonsense -F FortuneFile -n 100


Nonsense reads in "template files" and "data files".

A template file is merely a text file containing "tags" enclosed in curly braces ( '{' and '}' ). Nonsense substitutes random text for these tags using a really crude markup language.

A data file is a text file divided into sections (seperated by a blank line), each one containing a list of text items (seperated by a newline) that are randomly selected to fill in the template.

There are a few special cases that allow nonsense to handle more elaborate situations:
  This tag will be replaced with a random number between number1 and number2 (inclusive).
  This tag will be replaced with one item from the list. If only one item is listed then it will be output %50 of the time (and nothing output the other 50%).
{@strftime format}
  This tag will be replaced with the current date/time using the strftime(3) format string. So, for instance, {@A} would be replaced with the current day of the week.
{@strftime format|number1|number2}
  Same as above, but uses the date/time that occurred X seconds ago, where X is a random number between number1 and number2. For instance, {@%H:%M|0|86400} would be replaced by the hour:minute anywhere from 0 to 86400 seconds (1 day) ago.
{;short perl code segment}
  The perl code within the braces will be evaluated. This is useful for doing something really complicated that requires the full power of Perl. However, this is risky since there’s no error checking and no "sandbox". You can disable this behavior with the -e option.
  This allows literal characters that couldn’t otherwise be specified, such as:
{\n} newline
{\0} null (i.e. nothing)
{\L} Left brace ('{')
{\R} Right brace ('}')
{\###} ascii(7) character in decimal
{variablename=literal text}
  Stores the text on the right-hand side of the equals sign to the specified state variable, without outputting anything. This is useful for preserving context and is used, for example, in the Slashdot simulator.
  Similar to above, but evaluates the command and stores the result into a state variable.
  Returns the contents of a state variable.
  Evaluates the command a random number of times between number1 and number2.

Case is important! {ProductName}, {productname} and {PRODUCTNAME} are slightly different. If the name is given in lowercase, the substitution will be converted to all lowercase (i.e. fed through the perl lc function).

Upercase names specify the opposite; the result is uppercoased with uc. Mixed case names tell nonsense to leave the case of the result alone (this is usually what is used). Finally, if you prepend a name with a caret, '^' (i.e. {^ProductName}), the result is fed through the perl ucfirst function, which will capitalize the first character only.




The nonsense program is written by
.An -nosplit
.An James Baughn Aq .

.An Fred Hirsch Aq and
.An Peter Suschlik Aq have both submitted code.

Send suggestions, comments, feedback, patches, and new datafiles/templates to the above address. Direct your hate mail and flames to <>.

This manual page was written by
.An Dave Chapeskie Aq from the README file.

Copyright 2000-2001. This program and accompanying files are licensed under the GNU General Public License 2.0.


The -e option is not the default.
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