The COLUMN operator generates blanks.


COLUMN position
  1. position is the column position (starts at 1).


The COLUMN operators generates space characters up to the given position.

The COLUMN operator is typically used in report routines to align data in PRINT statements and move the character position forward within the current line.

This operator makes sense when used in an expression with the comma append operator: Spaces will be generated depending on the number of characters that have been used in the expression, before the COLUMN operator.

Note: The COLUMN operator is aware of \n characters in the string preceding the COLUMN keyword. If the preceding string contains a \n, the position count starts at the first character after the last \n:
    DISPLAY "line 1", COLUMN 20, ".\n",
            "line 2", COLUMN 20, ".\n",
            "line 3", COLUMN 20, "."
line 1             .
line 2             .
line 3             .

The COLUMN operator can be used outside report routines, in order to align data to be displayed with a proportional font, typically in a TUI context. For example, the next lines will always DISPLAY the content of the lastname variable starting from column 30 of the terminal, no matters the number of characters contained in the firstname variable. The example defines VARCHAR variables, since CHAR variables are blank-padded, we would need to use the CLIPPED operator:

DEFINE firstname, lastname VARCHAR(50)
DISPLAY firstname, COLUMN(30), lasttname

The position operand must be a non-negative integer that specifies a character position offset (from the left margin) no greater than the line width (that is, no greater than the difference (right margin - left margin). This designation moves the character position to a left-offset, where 1 is the first position after the left margin. If current position is greater than the operand, the COLUMN specification is ignored.


  PRINT "Number", COLUMN 12,"Name", COLUMN 35,"Location"
  PRINT customer_num, COLUMN 12,cust_fname, COLUMN 35,cust_city