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Last update on 04. Mar 2022 .
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Modify fields of listed


ARB_NT/Species/Search and Query/More Functions/Modify fields of listed

ARB_NT/Genome/Search and query/More Functions/Modify fields of listed

ARB_NT/Genome/Experiment/Search and query/More Functions/Modify fields of listed



Finds and replaces substrings within fields/tagged subfields of all listed species/genes. The entries within the selected fields of all listed species/genes can be modified either individually or globally.


Target field  

Select the target field to modify by pressing the button in the upper part of the window.

Target field related options:

  • 'Accept conversion errors':
    • if checked, accepts modifications like writing "hello" to a numeric field (which will be written as '0')
    • otherwise arb will abort with an error in such cases (Note that writing a string like "4711" to numeric fields will work w/o error)

  • 'Allow overwrite of species ID':
    • normally writing to field 'name' is not permitted, because doing so is dangerous and may destroy access to your data.
    • if checked, arb will write the name field. Please make sure the written values are unique. If the same value is used for e.g. two species, you will loose access to one these species.


Expert options  

  • 'Use Tags' allows to tag entries or modify only tagged parts of entries. See ´TAGS: Subfields´ for details.
  • 'Double Pars' causes the result of the 'Command' to be interpreted and executed as command once again (special; in doubt don't use)



Three different languages can be used to modify an entry:

SRT:    indicated by a leading ':' character
ACI:    indicated by a leading '|' character
REG:    indicated by sourrounding '/' characters


REG: Simple Regular Expressions (not for beginners)
'/Search RegExpr/Replace String/'  or
'/Search RegExpr/'
(see ´Regular Expressions (REG)´ for more details)
SRT: Replaces substrings
Syntax: ':old_string=new_string' (see ´Search and Replace Tool (SRT)´ for more details)
Example: remove all spaces with SRT ': ='
Different search/replace commands can be performed simultaneously and have to be separated by ':'
':search1=replace1:search2=replace2:  ...  :searchn=replacen'.
'*' and '?' are wild cards for multiple and single characters, respectively.
ACI: More sophisticated string manipulations
Read ´ARB Command Interpreter (ACI)´ for more information.

Predefined commands  

Clicking on one of the predefined commands in the list at the bottom of the window

  • will set the content of the 'Command' field and
  • may change the selected target field (!!!)


Defining custom commands  

You may add new commands by editing one of the files:


You should save this file to another location when installing new versions of ARB or it will be overwritten.

A better way is to create your own list(s). All list matching 'mod_fields*.sellst' will be loaded, where 'mod_fields.sellst' is loaded.

If you have created any scripts which might be useful for other ARB users send them to



':p?r=p?1w'      replaces       par to paw
                                pbr to pbw
                                pcr to pcw ...
':p??r=p?2?1r'   swaps the two letters between p and r
':a*=b*1'        replaces only the first 'a' by 'b'
':?* *=?1. *2'   Replaces the first word by its first
                 letter + '.'
':\:=\n'         replaces all ':' by <newline>
':*=*1 *(key1)'  appends the database field <key1>
':*=*1 *(key1|nothing found)'
                appends the database field <key1>
                if <key1> does not contain entries
                append 'nothing  found'
  1. Global modification: Replace 'spec.' by 'sp.' within the field full_name of all listed species:
    Select Field:   'full_name'
    Type Command:   ':spec.=sp.'
    Press:          'GO'
  2. Individual modification: Append the particular entries of fields 'title' and 'journal' to that of the fields 'author' of all listed species if there are any entries:
    Select Field:   'author'
    Type Command:   ':*=*1 *(title) *(journal)'
    Press:          'GO'



Undo does work.



Be careful if search or replace string contains special characters (such as ':').



No bugs known