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tm_format Function

The tm_format function produces a string by formatting a number of other values according to a specification string. It is similar to The printf function in C, and other similar functions in other programming languages.

tm_format(spec, values...)


tm_format("Hello, %s!", "Ander")
Hello, Ander!
tm_format("There are %d lights", 4)
There are 4 lights

Simple format verbs like %s and %d behave similarly to template interpolation syntax, which is often more readable.

tm_format("Hello, %s!",
Hello, Valentina!
> "Hello, ${}!"
Hello, Valentina!

The formatting verb %#v accepts a value of any type and presents it using JSON encoding, similar to jsonencode.

tm_format("%#v", "hello")
tm_format("%#v", true)
tm_format("%#v", 1)
tm_format("%#v", {a = 1})
tm_format("%#v", [true])
tm_format("%#v", null)

The tm_format function is most useful when you use more complex format specifications.

Specification Syntax

The specification is a string that includes formatting verbs that are introduced with the % character. The function call must then have one additional argument for each verb sequence in the specification. The verbs are matched with consecutive arguments and formatted as directed, as long as each given argument is convertible to the type required by the format verb.

By default, % sequences consume successive arguments starting with the first. Introducing a [n] sequence immediately before the verb letter, where n is a decimal integer, explicitly chooses a particular value argument by its one-based index. Subsequent calls without an explicit index will then proceed with n+1, n+2, etc.

The function produces an error if the format string requests an impossible conversion or access more arguments than are given. An error is produced also for an unsupported format verb.


The specification may contain the following verbs.

%%Literal percent sign, consuming no value.
%vDefault formatting based on the value type. Accepts all types, including items of null, list, and map types.
%#vJSON serialization of the value, as with jsonencode. Accepts all types, including items of null, list, and map types.
%tConvert to boolean and produce true or false.
%bConvert to integer number and produce binary representation.
%dConvert to integer number and produce decimal representation.
%oConvert to integer number and produce octal representation.
%xConvert to integer number and produce hexadecimal representation with lowercase letters.
%XLike %x, but use uppercase letters.
%eConvert to number and produce scientific notation, like -1.234456e+78.
%ELike %e, but use an uppercase E to introduce the exponent.
%fConvert to number and produce decimal fraction notation with no exponent, like 123.456.
%gLike %e for large exponents or like %f otherwise.
%GLike %E for large exponents or like %f otherwise.
%sConvert to string and insert the string's characters.
%qConvert to string and produce a JSON quoted string representation.

Default Format Verbs

When %v is used, Terramate chooses the appropriate format verb based on the value type.

any other%#v

Null values produce the string null if formatted with %v or %#v, and cause an error for other verbs.

Width Modifier

Use a width modifier with an optional decimal number immediately preceding the verb letter to specify how many characters will be used to represent the value. You can specify precision after the (optional) width with a period (.) followed by a decimal number. If width or precision are omitted, Terramate selects default values based on the given value.

The following examples demonstrate example use cases for the width modifier.

%fDefault width and precision.
%9fWidth 9, default precision.
%.2fDefault width, precision 2.
%9.2fWidth 9, precision 2.


Width and precision modifiers with non-numeric types such as strings (%s) are interpreted differently. Setting either width or precision to zero is the same as not including them at all.

Additional Format Options

Use the following symbols immediately after the % symbol to set additional formatting requirements.

spaceLeave a space where the sign would be if a number is positive.
+Show the sign of a number even if it is positive.
-Pad the width with spaces on the right rather than the left.
0Pad the width with leading zeros rather than spaces.
  • tm_formatdate is a specialized formatting function for human-readable timestamps.
  • tm_formatlist uses the same specification syntax to produce a list of strings.