When I checked out one of Microsoft's Web sites Starter Kits, I noticed that they had a bunch of gibberish sample text and wondered what poor soul had to write all of that out. I then thought, "They must have a tool to generate that gibberish text" and so as a fun project I decided to write my own.
Gibberish can take a bunch of text and swap out every alpha-numeric character in the text with a different random character. Or it can split the text up into an array of words and replace the text on a word-by-word basis, still creating gibberish but it's somewhat more legible and uses real words.
I took the list of words from the 12Dicts collection on the http://wordlist.sourceforge.net/ site. However, you can also upload your own list of words from the form if you'd like.
It requires only .NET 2.0, no install needed.
Getting Gibberish to generate a bunch of random characters in place of existing ones was easy. But I also had to exclude any special characters to preserve formatting of the text which wasn't too bad.
But getting Gibberish to swap out a word with one from a predefined list of words was a bit more difficult because each word might have several "special" characters; each one of these characters should be used to split up the word and each section of the word is replaced with a different word. Finally the sections of the word are joined back together with their original "special" characters, formatting, and letter casing.
Example: Hello,Worldly.World's -> Wheel,Mallets.Coons'l
This requires that you split the word up into 4 words using 3 different split characters: "Hello", "Wordly", "World", "s" using split characters: ,.'
The real trick is to use a recursive method which loops back into itself every time it finds a special character in the word or sub-word being processed.
Using the Code
The Make Gibberish button splits the entire
string into a
CharArray and loops through each character in the array. For each loop iteration, it calls the
SwapCharacters function and appends the new character to the
gibberishString. Finally, it outputs
gibberishString to the text box.
The Change Words button splits the text up into an array of words, not characters, and loops through each word in the array. For each loop iteration, it checks to see if the word has any special characters in it; if not, it calls the
SwapWord function which swaps the word with a predefined list of words from a text file read during the
If the word contains a special character, it calls the
ProcessSpecialWord function which splits the word into an array of sub-words to be replaced.
Finally, it appends the new word to the
gibberishString and eventually outputs
gibberishString to the text box.
SwapCharacters function gets passed a
Char and determines if it is upper case, lower case, or a number. If it's upper or lower case, it grabs a random character from the alphabet, converts it to upper or lower case as needed and returns the resulting
Char. If it's a number, it returns a random number from 0-9.
Private Function SwapCharacters(ByVal character As Char) As Char
If Char.IsUpper(character) Then
Return Char.ToUpper(letterCharArray(rand.Next(0, 25)))
ElseIf Char.IsLower(character) Then
Return letterCharArray(rand.Next(0, 25))
ElseIf CStr(numberCharArray).Contains(character) Then
Return numberCharArray(rand.Next(0, 9))
Else Return character
SwapWord function gets passed a word,
origWord, and checks to see if it contains any special characters; if it does, it just returns back the
If the word passed is only 1 character in length, it calls the
SwapCharacters function and returns the result.
If the word passed has no special characters and has more than one character, it creates a new
ArrayList, loops through every word in the loaded word list, and adds any words with the same length as the
origWord to the
ArrayList. If the
ArrayList contains any words with the same length as the
origWord, it picks out one of the words in the
ArrayList at random and returns the new word after passing it through the
Private Function SwapWord(ByVal origWord As String) As String
If wordListArray Is Nothing Then
If origWord.IndexOfAny(specialCharArray) >= 0 OrElse origWord = String.Empty Then
ElseIf origWord.Length = 1 Then
Else Dim wordsWithLength As ArrayList = New ArrayList
Dim tempWord As String = String.Empty
For i As Integer = 0 To wordListArray.Length - 1I
tempWord = wordListArray(i)
If tempWord.Length = origWord.Length Then
If wordsWithLength.Count = 0 Then
Dim newWord As String = wordsWithLength.Item_
(rand.Next(0, wordsWithLength.Count - 1I)).ToString()
Return CopyCase(origWord, newWord)
CopyCase function gets passed
newWord, splits both words up into their own
CharArrays and loops through each position in the
oldWordCharArray. For each iteration, the loop checks to see if the
Char is upper or lower case and converts the corresponding
newWord array character to that case.
It then uses
CStr to convert the
CharArray back into a
string and returns the now correct case
Private Function CopyCase(ByVal oldWord As String, ByVal newWord As String) As String
If oldWord.Length = newWord.Length Then
Dim oldWordCharArray() As Char = oldWord.ToCharArray()
Dim newWordCharArray() As Char = newWord.ToCharArray()
For i As Integer = 0 To UBound(oldWordCharArray)
If Char.IsUpper(oldWordCharArray(i)) Then
newWordCharArray(i) = Char.ToUpper(newWordCharArray(i))
ElseIf Char.IsLower(oldWordCharArray(i)) Then
newWordCharArray(i) = Char.ToLower(newWordCharArray(i))
ProcessSpecialWord function is where all the head scratching came it. How in the world do I recursively split a word with multiple, different, special characters into an array of separate words, replace them, and then put it all back together remembering which special characters go where?
After writing and then deleting about a 1,000 lines of code I came up with the
ProcessSpecialWord method which keeps passing words back to itself until there are no more special characters. The trick is to split the word with only one special character at a time and if there are more, just pass it back into the
ProcessSpecialWord method for another go.
Once all sections of the word have been split up and replaced, join them all back together, and return the
Private Function ProcessSpecialWord(ByVal word As String) As String
For Each specialChar As Char In specialCharArray
If word.Contains(specialChar.ToString) Then
Dim subword() As String = SplitWord(word, specialChar)
For i As Integer = 0 To subword.Length - 1I
If subword(i).IndexOfAny(specialCharArray) >= 0 Then
subword(i) = ProcessSpecialWord(subword(i))
subword(i) = SwapWord(subword(i))
word = String.Join(specialChar, subword)
Points of Interest
It's fun to see what combination of words you can come up with and it may be useful to someone out there. I know there are other script based gibberish generators out there but the couple that I looked at couldn't parse multiple special characters and preserve word punctuation.
Nevertheless, even if not practically useful it should be academically useful and someone might make use of some of the beginner to intermediate concepts in the code logic.
Coming up with the recursive
ProcessSpecialWord function was a small achievement and it was fun to think up.
Please feel free to leave any comments, feedback, code quality, or performance tuning thoughts you might have.