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This command generates a formatted string in the same way as the ANSI C sprintf procedure (it uses sprintf in its implementation). FormatString indicates how to format the result, using % conversion specifiers as in sprintf, and the additional arguments, if any, provide values to be substituted into the result. The return value from format is the formatted string.
DETAILS ON FORMATTING
The command operates by scanning formatString from left to right. Each character from the format string is appended to the result string unless it is a percent sign. If the character is a % then it is not copied to the result string. Instead, the characters following the % character are treated as a conversion specifier. The conversion specifier controls the conversion of the next successive arg to a particular format and the result is appended to the result string in place of the conversion specifier. If there are multiple conversion specifiers in the format string, then each one controls the conversion of one additional arg. The format command must be given enough args to meet the needs of all of the conversion specifiers in formatString.
Each conversion specifier may contain up to six different parts: an XPG3 position specifier, a set of flags, a minimum field width, a precision, a length modifier, and a conversion character. Any of these fields may be omitted except for the conversion character. The fields that are present must appear in the order given above. The paragraphs below discuss each of these fields in turn.
If the % is followed by a decimal number and a $, as in ``%2$d'', then the value to convert is not taken from the next sequential argument. Instead, it is taken from the argument indicated by the number, where 1 corresponds to the first arg. If the conversion specifier requires multiple arguments because of * characters in the specifier then successive arguments are used, starting with the argument given by the number. This follows the XPG3 conventions for positional specifiers. If there are any positional specifiers in formatString then all of the specifiers must be positional.
The second portion of a conversion specifier may contain any of the following flag characters, in any order:
The fourth portion of a conversion specifier is a precision, which consists of a period followed by a number. The number is used in different ways for different conversions. For e, E, and f conversions it specifies the number of digits to appear to the right of the decimal point. For g and G conversions it specifies the total number of digits to appear, including those on both sides of the decimal point (however, trailing zeroes after the decimal point will still be omitted unless the # flag has been specified). For integer conversions, it specifies a minimum number of digits to print (leading zeroes will be added if necessary). For s conversions it specifies the maximum number of characters to be printed; if the string is longer than this then the trailing characters will be dropped. If the precision is specified with * rather than a number then the next argument to the format command determines the precision; it must be a numeric string.
The fifth part of a conversion specifier is a length modifier, which must be h or l. If it is h it specifies that the numeric value should be truncated to a 16-bit value before converting. This option is rarely useful. The l modifier is ignored.
The last thing in a conversion specifier is an alphabetic character that determines what kind of conversion to perform. The following conversion characters are currently supported:
DIFFERENCES FROM ANSI SPRINTF
The behavior of the format command is the same as the ANSI C sprintf procedure except for the following differences:
 %p and %n specifiers are not currently supported.
 For %c conversions the argument must be a decimal string, which will then be converted to the corresponding character value.
 The l modifier is ignored; integer values are always converted as if there were no modifier present and real values are always converted as if the l modifier were present (i.e. type double is used for the internal representation). If the h modifier is specified then integer values are truncated to short before conversion.