Introducing Regular Expressions, Unraveling Regular Expressions, Step-by-step; By Michael Fitzgerald; Publisher: O’Reilly Media
I have long considered regular expressions to be the “keys to the kingdom” when it comes to programming productivity. Regular expressions find patterns in text strings. A regular expression can be crafted to match an email address for validating form inputs. They can find instances of double word occurrences in the novel you are writing. Regular expressions can find a single or multiple instances of a program variable within thousands of lines of code. There are countless other situations where a carefully constructed regular expression can make a huge task seem trivial. For all their utilitarian function regular expressions can be very complicated to use.
Introducing Regular Expressions is a good place to start learning about regular expressions. I found the examples to be informative and very easy to follow. I found the explanation of greedy, lazy and possessive quantifiers a little easier to understand than those in other texts on the subject. Being a Linux user, I enjoyed the examples that were demonstrated with Ack, Perl, Sed, and Vim. The author uses several web based tools for examples. Most of the time my results matched the text. Sometimes they did not. This could be due to changes in the web based tools or the fact that my platform differed from the author’s. Overall, it was not a big issue. On the plus side, the reader is exposed to a number of regular expression tools and will surely come away with several regardless of their preferred computer operating system.
This book begins with simple pattern matching and introduces the reader to the major operations performed by regular expressions. It is not heavy on jargon. I recommend the reader actually do the examples while experimenting with the techniques discussed. The work is very good for the intended audience and subject matter. If you are new to regular expressions this book in an excellent place to start. It is not an exhaustive text on the subject. I would recommend this book and found the information to be useful and informative.
Disclosure: I received a free e-book copy for review purposes.