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Best books about Regular expressions



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Regular expressions are a central element of UNIX. They are used in major utilities like egrep, find, sed, awk as well as all scripting languages and first of all Perl.

Mastering Regular Expressions is a really classic book on Perl implementation of regular expression engine. It  covers the basics of regular-expression syntax, then delves into the mechanics of expression-processing, common pitfalls, performance issues, and implementation-specific differences. It offers a wealth information that you can put to immediate use.  While main topic is Perl RE engine, a deep-enough travel through different RE dialects is made to help RE-crafting in almost any tool that supports REs. The most useful feature delivered in this book was ability to PARSE, UNDERSTAND and FIX a (slow, broken, strange acting) RE. The third edition is particularly welcome because of its extensive coverage of regular expressions in the context of Java. 

Actually regular expressions are well covered in all books about Perl. Some of them are freely available on the Net.

Regular expressions  are simple to write and can be close to impossible to read and even  harder to understand. It is important to know were to stop. Overcomplexity in regular expressions can lead to complex errors and security risks. Unfortunately many authors do not understand that problem with regular expressions and go way too far in raising complexity. In many cases instead of regular expression other tool should be used for example lexical or syntax parser.


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Learning Regular Expressions by Michael Fitzgerald Dr (Paperback - Jul 22, 2012)

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Mastering Regular Expressions Jeffrey Friedl

August 15, 2006 | ISBN-10: 0596528124 | ISBN-13: 978-0596528126 | Edition: Third Edition

A great book to really master regular expressions.Check the book's website for corrections, translations & related links.

"sherzodr": I need more stars... Bravo Jeffrey, December 8, 2001

Jeffrey Friedl's "Mastering Regular Expressions" does a facinating job in taking you through the jungle (and I mean jungle) of RegExp.

I am a Perl/CGI programmer, and I had considered myself good at RegExp even before I read this book. Most of the things I knew were from Programming Perl, 3rd edition (chapter 5, Pattern Matching). But I still decided to give Jeffrey a chance since I was having some trouble with my Parse::Syntax module, which is designed to parsing *any* programming language and highlighting the syntax accordingly (provided it has a syntax/grammer file written for the specific language). The accuracy of the parser (and more importantly the speed) does depend on well crafted regular expressions.

As I started reading the book, I couldn't stop. I took it to my school's cafeteria with me and no one could make me leave untill I finished the whole book. I was excited. I was pleased! Here is the outline of tha chapters:

Chapter 1 and 2 introduce you to regular expressions and give some basic regex examples. Mail utility and date matching is two of them.

Chapter 3 mostly talks about conventions that all the regex tools follow and their differences.

Chapter 4 deals with Traditional NFA, POSIX NFA and DFA regex engines and their pros and cons. What you'll like the most is the details provided by the author on each and every single example. He also uses a lot of step-by-step illustrations to take you deeper into the regex engine itself and see/feel how it works. He shows the point of backtrackings and provides awesome benchmarks. He uses such examples of matching a quote, allowing escaped quotes inside the pattern, matching C-style comments, IP addresses and many more.

Chapter 5 deals with writing efficient regular expressions for NFA engines. It also re-vists some of the examples provided in the previous chapter and fine-tunes them.

Chapter 6 and 7 deals with Tool-Language specific features of Regex engines. Chapter 6 is dedicated to Awk, Tcl and GNU Emacs, whereas chapter 7 is entirely dedicated to Perl, good over 100 pages of Perlism.

It's true that there're features that Perl 5.6 offers when it comes to regex that didn't exist at the time this book went to press, (lookbehinds, for example). But this no way makes this book dated. Just take my word for it. Jeffrey put together a great masterpiece that will not die for many years, no matter how fast the technology tends to enhance
Haven't read anything more exciting than this for many years.

Regular Expressions Cookbook by Jan Goyvaerts and Steven Levithan (Paperback - May 29, 2009)

Regular Expression Pocket Reference Nathan Torkington O'Reilly 059600415X

Regular Expressions: The Complete Tutorial Jan Goyvaerts Lulu Press 1411677609

Sams Teach Yourself Regular Expressions in 10 Minutes Ben Forta Sams 0672325667

The 10 minutes are actually a series of 10 minutes lessons. "A crash course [in regular expressions] for the rest of us"

Beginning Regular Expressions (Programmer to Programmer) Andrew Watt Wrox Press 0764574892

Regular Expression Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach Nathan A. Good APress 159059441X

Visual Basic .NET Text Manipulation Handbook: String Handling and Regular Expressions Paul Wilton, Craig McQueen & François Liger Wrox Press 1861007302

Regular Expressions with .NET Dan Appleman Dan Appleman B0000632ZU

[PDF download]

Java Regular Expressions: Taming the java.util.regex Engine Mehran Habibi APress 1590591070

JDK 1.4 Tutorial, eDoc 6 : Understanding and Using Regular Expressions in Java Gregory Travis Manning Publications B00006928

[PDF download] Oracle Regular Expressions Pocket Reference Jonathan Gennick & Peter Linsley O'Reilly 0596006012


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Last modified: March, 12, 2019