# a macro to print the catcodes of all tokens

Mainly for debugging purposes I would like to have a macro which prints all tokens in a list of tokens and their corresponding catcodes.

Based on an answer by Joseph Wright I have written a macro which returns the catcode of one token.

Based on this question which shows three different loops I see two fundamentally different approaches two iterate over the tokens: dealing with explicit tokens by passing them as arguments or dealing with implicit tokens using \let. The latter seems more promissing therefore I am calling it approach 1.

I am having the following problems:

• using approach 1 (implicit tokens):
• I don't know how to print the symbol of an implicit token if it does not have catcode 11 or 12 (letter or other).
• Active characters are printed as catcode 16.
• using approach 2 (explicit tokens):
• Spaces are gobbled.
• { and } are not printed but used to make groups.

I don't think that the problems of the second approach can be solved. But I am hoping that there are improvements for the first approach or that there might be a third, better approach which I am missing.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{filecontents}

% ========== get catcode ==========
% I am not using something like \the\catcode#1 because:
% (1) I want the catcode of the token,
%     not the catcode which a token would get
%     if it was created at this position
% (2) that would not work with implicit tokens

\makeatletter
\@firstofone{\let\implicitSpaceToken= }
\makeatother

% based on https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/7413/120953
\newcommand{\getCatcode}[1]{%
%    0: escape character, no tokens of that catcode exist
\ifcat \egroup\noexpand#1%
1%
\else\ifcat \bgroup\noexpand#1%
2%
\else\ifcat $\noexpand#1%$ (the commented out dollar sign is important for the syntax highlighting in TeXstudio)
3%
\else\ifcat &\noexpand#1%
4%
%    5: end of line, no tokens of that catcode exist
\else\ifcat ##\noexpand#1%
6%
\else\ifcat ^\noexpand#1%
7%
\else\ifcat _\noexpand#1%
8%
%    9: ignored character, no tokens of that catcode exist
\else\ifcat \implicitSpaceToken\noexpand#1%
10%
\else\ifcat a\noexpand#1%
11%
\else\ifcat 1\noexpand#1%
12%
\else\ifcat \noexpand~\noexpand#1%
13%
%   14: comment character, no tokens of that catcode exist
%   15: invalid character, no tokens of that catcode exist
\else\ifcat \relax\noexpand#1%
16%
\else
error% this can not happen
\fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi \fi
}

% ========== approach 1: loop based on implicit tokens ==========
% + does not ignore spaces
% + no problems with groups
% - wrong catcode for active characters (16 instead of 13)
% - I don't see a feasable way to print the characters (other than those with catcode 10 and 11)

\begin{filecontents}{loop-implicit-tokens.tex}
\def\printtokens#1{
%   \def\do##1{$\texttt{\string##1}_{\getCatcode##1}$}%
\def\do##1{%
\edef\i{\getCatcode{##1}}%
(\i%
\ifnum \i = 11\relax
:\,\texttt{##1}%
\else\ifnum \i = 12\relax
:\,\texttt{##1}%
\fi \fi
)%
}%
\iterate#1\relax
}

% based on https://tex.stackexchange.com/q/359189/120953
\def\iterate{\afterassignment\loopbody\let\xchar= }
\def\loopbody{%
\ifx\relax\xchar
\let\next=\relax
\else
\do\xchar
\let\next=\iterate
\fi
\next
}
\end{filecontents}

% ========== approach 2: loop based on explicit tokens ==========
% + prints correct catcode of active characters
% + possible to print the character
% - ignores *explicit* tokens with catcode 10 (space)
% - problems with *explicit* tokens of catcodes 1 and 2 (groups)

\begin{filecontents*}{loop-explicit-tokens.tex}
\def\printtokens#1{
\def\do##1{$\texttt{\string##1}_{\getCatcode##1}$}%
\iterate#1\relax
}

% based on https://tex.stackexchange.com/q/359189/120953
\def\iterate#1{%
\ifx\relax#1%
\else
\do{#1}%
\expandafter\iterate
\fi
}
\end{filecontents*}

% ========== main document ==========

\input{loop-implicit-tokens}
%\input{loop-explicit-tokens}

\newcommand{\printtokensinmacro}[1]{\expandafter\printtokens\expandafter{#1}}

\makeatletter
\newcommand{\test}{@ $i_\text{di}^2$&##~}
\makeatother

\begin{document}
\printtokensinmacro\test

\end{document}

• You really only have to deal with spaces and braces, otherwise you can grab with a usual argument. With \peek_N_type:TF from expl3 you are almost done, check if N type, grab as an argument and process, if not, check if it's a space, or a brace and output the correct catcode for those three particular cases. Dec 23, 2017 at 11:38
• Dec 23, 2017 at 11:53

The solution which uses only TeX primitives is here. You need not expl3, LaTeX etc. The result of \showcatcodes is the same as in another solution presented here.

\def\showcatcodes#1{\showcA#1\showcA}
\def\showcA{\let\next=\showcC \futurelet\nextc\showcB}
\def\showcB{%
\ifx\nextc\showcA \def\next##1{}\fi
\expandafter\ifx\space\nextc \def\next{\showcD\ {10}}\fi
\ifx\nextc{\def\next{\showcD\{{1}}\fi
\ifx\nextc}\def\next{\showcD\}{2}}\fi
\next
}
\def\showcC#1{{\tt\string#1}\expandafter
\ifcat\noexpand#1\relax \showcE{16}\else \showcE{\the\catcode#1}\fi
\showcA
}
\def\showcD#1#2{{\tt\char#1}\showcE{#2}\afterassignment\showcA \let\nextc= }
\def\showcE#1{${}_{#1}$\thinspace}

\showcatcodes{a~b{cd{e1}}2 3!$_ ^y\xxx} \end  Edit With regard to the comment (below) by DavidCarlisle I'v added second version of my code: \def\showcatcodes#1{\showcA#1\showcA} \def\showcA{\let\next=\showcC \futurelet\nextc\showcB} \def\showcB{% \ifx\nextc\showcA \def\next##1{}\fi \ifcat\space\noexpand\nextc \def\next{\showcD\ {10}}\fi \ifcat\noexpand\nextc{\def\next{\showcD\{{1}}\fi \ifcat\noexpand\nextc}\def\next{\showcD\}{2}}\fi \next } \def\showcC#1{{\tt\string#1}\showcE{% \ifcat\noexpand#1$3\fi \ifcat\noexpand#1&4\fi \ifcat\noexpand#1##6\fi
\ifcat\noexpand#1^7\fi \ifcat\noexpand#1_8\fi \ifcat\noexpand#1x11\fi
\ifcat\noexpand#1:12\fi \ifcat\noexpand#1\noexpand~13\fi
\ifcat\noexpand#1\hbox16\fi
}\showcA
}
\def\showcD#1#2{{\tt\char#1}\showcE{#2}\afterassignment\showcA \let\nextc= }
\def\showcE#1{${}_{#1}$\thinspace}

\showcatcodes{a~b{cd{e1}}2 3!$_ ^y\xxx} \end  • but this shows \the\catcode#1 ie the current value of \catcode not the catcode stored in the token, unless I misread it? Dec 23, 2017 at 19:33 • @DavidCarlisle You are right. I misunderstood the question. Of course, we can replace \the\catcode by a \ifcats collection. Dec 23, 2017 at 19:52 • yes there is a \ifcat based test in the question, egreg has same comment under his answer:-) Dec 23, 2017 at 20:07 • @wipet in the case of a { or a } it says \let\next=\showcE \def\next. Is there a hidden meaning behind the let? I would have thought that it should not have any effect because it is directly overwritten by the def. Dec 24, 2017 at 8:36 • @jakun You are right. This \let is only a leftover of my previous experiments. I corrected it. Dec 24, 2017 at 11:00 You can use a variation on https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/358697/4427 \documentclass{article} \usepackage{expl3,xparse} \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc} \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} \ExplSyntaxOn \NewDocumentCommand\showcatcodes { m } { \group_begin: \ttfamily \tl_set:Nn \l_tmpa_tl { #1 } \jakun_remove_braces: \regex_extract_all:nVN { . } \l_tmpa_tl \l_tmpa_seq \seq_map_inline:Nn \l_tmpa_seq { \jakun_value_catcode:n { ##1 } } \group_end: } \cs_new_protected:Nn \jakun_remove_braces: { \regex_match:nVT { \cB. } \l_tmpa_tl { \regex_replace_all:nnN { \cB. (.*?) \cE\} } { \cO\{ \1 \cO\} } \l_tmpa_tl \jakun_remove_braces: } } \cs_generate_variant:Nn \regex_extract_all:nnN { nV } \prg_generate_conditional_variant:Nnn \regex_match:nn { nV } { T } \cs_new_protected:Nn \jakun_value_catcode:n { \bool_lazy_and:nnTF { \tl_if_single_p:n { #1 } } { \token_if_cs_p:N #1 } { \token_to_str:N #1 \textsubscript{16} } { \str_if_eq:nnTF { #1 } { ~ } { \textvisiblespace \textsubscript{10} } { \token_to_str:N #1 \textsubscript{\char_value_catcode:n { #1 }} } } } \ExplSyntaxOff \begin{document} \showcatcodes{a~b{cd{e1}}2 3!$_ ^y\xxx}
\end{document}


A version that uses the current category codes; I think that much more work would be needed to cope with implicit characters. You can play with it.

I think that \tl_analysis_show:n is much better for the purpose of debugging.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{xparse}

\ExplSyntaxOn
\NewDocumentCommand{\showcatcodes}{sm}
{
\group_begin:
\ttfamily
\IfBooleanTF{#1}
{
\exp_last_unbraced:NV \jakun_showcatcodes: #2 \q_stop
}
{
\jakun_showcatcodes: #2 \q_stop
}
\group_end:
}

\cs_new_protected:Nn \jakun_showcatcodes:
{
\peek_meaning_remove:NTF \q_stop
{
%\unskip
}
{
\peek_catcode_remove:NTF \c_space_token
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \textvisiblespace } { 10 }
\jakun_showcatcodes:
}
{
\peek_catcode_remove:NTF \c_group_begin_token
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \{ } { 1 }
\jakun_showcatcodes:
}
{
\peek_catcode_remove:NTF \c_group_end_token
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \} } { 2 }
\jakun_showcatcodes:
}
{
\jakun_other_catcode:N
}
}
}
}
}

\cs_new_protected:Nn \jakun_other_catcode:N
{
\token_if_cs:NTF #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 16 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_math_toggle_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 3 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_alignment_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 4 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_parameter_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 6 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_math_superscript_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 7 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_math_subscript_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 8 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_catcode_letter_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 11 }
}
{
\token_if_eq_catcode:NNTF \c_catcode_other_token #1
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 12 }
}
{
\jakun_print_catcode:nn { \token_to_str:N #1 } { 13 }
}
}
}
}
}
}
}
}
\jakun_showcatcodes:
}

\cs_new_protected:Nn \jakun_print_catcode:nn
{
#1\textsubscript{#2}~
}

\ExplSyntaxOff

\begin{document}

\showcatcodes{abc x{y{z}}~&#_\xyz}

{
\catcodez=\active
\showcatcodes{abc x{y{z}}~&#_\xyz}
\gdef\test{abc x{y{z}}~&##_\xyz}
}

\showcatcodes*{\test}

\end{document}


• but this shows \the\catcode#1 ie the current value of \catcode not the catcode stored in the token, unless I misread it? Dec 23, 2017 at 19:39

This answer uses the tokcycle package to give the catcode decodes. It can handle implicit, active, and long tokens, however, there are some limitations.

The package is currently set up to remember the name of only one implicit cat-6 token at a time. If there is more than one implicit cat-6 in the input stream, it will detect all of them as cat-6, but will only remember the name of the most recent implicit cat-6 declaration. A multiplicity of explicit cat-6 tokens pose no problem.

The package can handle changes in cat 1,2 tokens. However, it cannot detect the charcode associated with such tokens, but must be told them in advance. I'll show an example later in the answer.

It will never interpret a % in the input stream as cat-14. Rather, the % is digested by TeX as a comment character before it ever reaches the tokcycle environment.

Likewise, cat-5 end-of-line's are intercepted by TeX before they reach tokcycle, and so they will be interpreted as explicit space tokens.

First, an MWE that leaves cat 1,2 tokens as {}, and has only one implicit cat-6 token \C.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{tokcycle,lmodern}
\tokcycleenvironment\showcats
\addcytoks{\thistok{\textvisiblespace}{\number\catcode##1}}\fi}
\newcommand\thistok[2]{#1$_{#2}$\,\allowbreak}
\makeatletter
\newcommand\catcomp[1]{%
\tctestifx{\implicitsixtok#1}{\expandafter\string#1$_{6}}{% \string#1$_{%
\tctestifcatnx #1\relax{0}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1${3}{% \tctestifcatnx #1&{4}{% \tctestifcatnx #1^{7}{% \tctestifcatnx #1_{8}{% \tctestifcatnx #1\@sptoken{10}{% \tctestifcatnx #1a{11}{% \tctestifcatnx #11{12}{% \tctestifcatnx #1~{13}{% *% }}}}}}}}}}% }$\,\allowbreak%
}
\let\deftok\tc@deftok
\makeatother
\begin{document}
\ttfamily
\let\A$% 3 \let\B&% 4 \let\C#% 6 \let\D^% 7 \let\E_% 8 \deftok\F{ }% 10 \let\G a% 11 \let\H 1% 12 \let\I~% 0, because \I is not active, % but a macro that takes the same meaning as ~ \let\J\relax% 0 \def\K{xyz}% 0 \catcodeq=\active% 13 \def q{x} \catcodeQ=\active \let Q #% This implicit assignment makes % the catcode of Q=6, rather than 13 \deftok\sptoken{ }% 10 \showcats \A\B\C\D\E\F\G\H\I\J\K A9$x_2^{y+1}$\today &#~ \space\sptoken qQ<> \endshowcats \end{document}  One should note that we are testing here the catcodes of the actual tokens, not the current value of \catcode associated with the given charcode. So, for example, if after \E is let to _, we reassign _ the catcode of 7, the token \E will still test as cat-8, not 7. Now, for the case of cat 1,2 changes, for which I will use <>. So, first, one has to save the catcode-12 versions of these cat 1,2 tokens. I do that with \def\<{<} \def\>{>}  before any catcode changes are made. Then I reassign the catcodes with \catcode<=1 \catcode>=2 \let\bgroup< \let\egroup> \settcGrouping<<#1>> \catcode{=12 \catcode}=12  The only unusual thing here is the \settcGrouping<<#1>> macro that tells tokcycle what tokens to place in the output stream for grouping (it uses {_1}_2 as the default, now reset to <_1>_2). This invocation is not really essential for this particular problem, because I don't actually detokenize every token the output stream. But if I did, it would ensure that the output stream grouping would be populated with the updated <> tokens. To bring the change for this particular approach, I explicitly tell the Showcats pseudo-environment to display the previously defined \<_1 and \>_2 whenever a grouping situation arises. The MWE...and for fun, I do it in plain pdfTeX, since tokcycle can operate in that mode: \input tokcycle \def\thistok#1#2{#1$_{#2}$\,\allowbreak} \catcode@=11 \def\textvisiblespace{\char"20} \def\,{\kern2pt} \long\def\catcomp#1{% \tctestifx{\implicitsixtok#1}{\expandafter\string#1$_{6}}{%
\string#1$_{% \tctestifcatnx #1\relax{0}{% \tctestifcatnx #1${3}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1&{4}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1^{7}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1_{8}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1\@sptoken{10}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1a{11}{%
\tctestifcatnx #11{12}{%
\tctestifcatnx #1~{13}{%
*%
}}}}}}}}}}%
}\,$\allowbreak% } \let\deftok\tc@deftok \deftok\@sptoken{ }% 10 \catcode@=12 \tt \let\A$% 3
\let\B&% 4
\let\C#% 6
\let\D^% 7
\let\E_% 8
\deftok\F{ }% 10
\let\G a% 11
\let\H 1% 12
\let\I~% 0, because \I is not active,
%           but a macro that takes the same meaning as ~
\let\J\relax% 0
\def\K{xyz}% 0

\catcodeq=\active% 13
\def q{x}
\catcodeQ=\active
\let Q #% This implicit assignment makes
%         the catcode of Q=6, rather than 13
\deftok\sptoken{ }% 10

\def\<{<}
\def\>{>}

\catcode<=1
\catcode>=2
\let\bgroup<
\let\egroup>
\settcGrouping<<#1>>
\catcode{=12
\catcode}=12

\tokcycleenvironment\Showcats

\Showcats
\A\B\C\D\E\F\G\H\I\J\K

A9 $x_2^<y+1>$ \today &#~

\space\sptoken qQ{}
\endShowcats

\bye


In the course of formulating this answer, I found a bug in the package. It did not process active-implicit spaces properly. For example,

\makeatletter
\catcodeQ=\active
\tc@deftok Q{ }
\tokcycle{}{}{}{\detokenize{[#1]}}{x y zQw}


does not produce a sensible result when encountering the Q` in the input stream.

I have now implemented that feature into the package and uploaded v1.2 (2020-10-01) to ctan for redistribution.