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I am trying to work with a string parsing macro, found in the answer of TeX capacity exceeded while parsing a date string - TeX - LaTeX.

Basically, I have strings num01, num02... num09 - from these, I would like to extract the last character; and this code, for instance, works (with pdflatex):


\def\parseMyNumHelper num0#1\relax{\edef\MyNum{#1}}



%   \begin{minipage}
    \typeout{ ======== \temp === \MyNum }
%   \end{minipage}


... resulting with this in the log output:

 ======== num01=== 1
(./a.aux) )


However, now just uncomment the begin/end {minipage} statements; the code immediately crashes with:

! Missing number, treated as zero.
<to be read again> 
l.12     \parseMyNum

... and even if I proceed a bit with looking at \parseMyNum, I cannot see anything strange:

? i
! Illegal unit of measure (pt inserted).
<to be read again> 
l.12     \parseMyNum
? i
insert>\typeout{ \meaning\parseMyNum }
 macro:#1->\edef \temp {#1}\expandafter \parseMyNumHelper \temp \relax 
> \parseMyNum=macro:
#1->\edef \temp {#1}\expandafter \parseMyNumHelper \temp \relax .
<insert>  \show\parseMyNum

l.12     \parseMyNum

Any ideas why the parsing macro \parseMyNum fails when within a minipage environment - and how to have a similar string parsing macro, working both within and outside of minipage and other environments?

Many thanks in advance for any answers,

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closed as too localized by Frank Mittelbach, Marco Daniel, percusse, Count Zero, Tom Bombadil Aug 23 '12 at 19:49

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minipage looks for its argument: \begin{minipage}{width}... – Ulrike Fischer May 23 '12 at 10:02
To confirm Ulrike's comment, if you put \begin{minipage}{\textwidth} then it works again. (Admittedly, this is far from obvious when looking at the log file! But a good debugging strategy is to also comment out the stuff you're trying to debug just to check that without it the document compiles okay.) – Loop Space May 23 '12 at 10:09
And indeed it is (looking for it argument) :) Many thanks for that @UlrikeFischer - would you mind posting your comment as an answer, so I can accept it? Cheers! – sdaau May 23 '12 at 10:12
up vote 7 down vote accepted

minipage looks for its argument: \begin{minipage}{width}...

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Many thanks for that, @UlrikeFischer - wish sometimes Latex would be able to give a message like "Error: environment minipage missing argument: \begin{minipage}..."; instead of: "Error: Missing number, treated as zero: \parseMyNum..." ... but thankfully, it's solved now :) Cheers! – sdaau May 23 '12 at 10:21
@sdaau: The argument is not missing. minipage is using your parseMyNum as argument and tells you that it hasn't the correct content. You would get a similar error if you forget e.g. the slash before a width: \begin{minipage}{textwidth} – Ulrike Fischer May 23 '12 at 10:35
Ah, I see - many thanks for that as well, @UlrikeFischer; I didn't come to the conclusion that "minipage is using your parseMyNum as argument" until now; it starts making a lot more sense. Could you also comment on why also forgetting the slash before a width would be similar? Is it that, not being a command, Latex will ignore the {textwidth}, and keep going until the next time it sees a backslash - a command, as demanded for minipage's argument? Thanks again - Cheers! – sdaau May 23 '12 at 10:56
No minipage will not ignore {textwidth}. It's its argument and it will try to use it. But the argument of minipage should be a width – in the end (after expansion) it should be a number followed by an unit like cm or pt. So if the argument start with "t" minipage will complain Missing number. – Ulrike Fischer May 23 '12 at 11:06

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