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Tip of the Day
Language: VB4,VB5,VB6,VBS
Expertise: beginner
Oct 16, 1999

Write concise code with the InStr function

You can often use the Instr function in an unorthodox way to write more concise code. A typical example is when you need to test a single character:

' test whether CHAR contains a vowel
' the standard way
If UCase$(char) = "A" Or UCase$(char) = "E" Or UCase$(char) = "I" Or UCase$ _
    (char) = "O"  Or UCase$(char) = "U" Then
        ' it is a vowel
End If

' the more concise solution
If InStr("AaEeIiOoUu", char) Then
    ' it is a vowel
End If
You can also use InStr to check the contents of a variable against a list of multi-character words, using a delimiter character that can't appear in the word:

' test whether WORD contains the name of a season
' the standard way
If LCase$(word) = "winter" Or LCase$(word) = "spring" Or LCase$(word) = _
    "summer" Or LCase$(word) = "fall" Then
        ' it is a season's name
End If

' the more concise way
If Instr(";winter;spring;summer;fall;", ";" & word & ";") Then
    ' it is a season's name
End If
In some sames you can even use InStr to replace a Select Case block, but you must pay a lot of attention to the number of characters in the arguments:

' convert a string in the range from "zero" to "nine" to the corresponding 
' numeric value:

' the standard way
Select Case LCase$(word)
    Case "zero"
        result = 0
    Case "one"
        result = 1
    Case "two"
        result = 2
    Case "three"
        result = 3
    Case "four"
        result = 4
    Case "five"
        result = 5
    Case "six"
        result = 6
    Case "seven"
        result = 7
    Case "eight"
        result = 8
    Case "nine"
        result = 9
End Select

' the more concise way
' note that the longest word in the list is 5 characters long, so we must
' pad shorter strings with the necessary number of semicolons
result = InStr(";zero;;one;;;two;;;three;four;;five;;six;;;seven;eight;nine;", _
    ";" & LCase$(word) & ";") \ 6
Francesco Balena
 
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