Mastering Regular Expressions, Third Edition



Why is Mastering Regular Expressions so important for you? Well, imagine you are a web designer stuck with the task of verifying that your web site is as seamless as possible. That means checking pages for errors such as duplications, misspelled keywords, or phrases that may need to be replaced. Or perhaps you are a Unix administrator needing to compare two files and dig out the lines that are similar or different.

Have you ever wondered how you can make your life easier, make simple tasks go by quickly, and ultimately make yourself look like a genius in your employer’s eyes? Look no further because using regular expressions is where you need to educate yourself.


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Knowing how to use regular expressions can be just the tool you need to get any system administration job done quickly and easily. You don’t have to be a programmer to use regular expressions. Whether you are a Unix guru, a creator of Perl scripts, or just a regular user manipulating a simple text editor, learning more about mastering the language of regular expressions is the key of enhancing your already powerful skills. Regular expressions are quite simply built into the heart of many computer programs such as Unix, Perl, and Python.

There is an informative book out there—the mastering regular expressions Bible, if you will—called Mastering Regular Expressions. Written by Jeffrey Friedl, this book makes easily for you to bring regular expressions, which are severely underutilized, into your world. Mastering the language of regular expressions takes an otherwise dry topic and turns it out into real life examples to help pros and novices alike onto controlling regular expressions. The following are what you can find in Friedl’s comprehensive book.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Regular Expressions

Here is your introduction to solving real life problems by using regular expressions. You will no longer see regular expressions as a small piece of supplemental script, but you will be encouraged to understand regular expressions like a language in and of itself. With this understanding, you will be able to unlock the full power of regular expressions.

You will not only begin to understand how mastering regular expressions can help you in tight spots but also where mastering at a high degree the regular expressions can help you cut down on the time it takes you to do everyday tasks.

Getting in the right frame of mind to begin working with regular expressions is important, so building your understanding block by block is a key learning in this chapter. You will explore Egrep Metacharacters and learn how to explore a deeper foundation of mastering regular expressions.

But while not prompting reckless use of regular expressions, this chapter seeks to fill you with an understanding of the watch-outs and warnings of using regular expressions. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.

Chapter 2: Extended Introductory Examples

On the heels of Chapter One are more real-life examples and useful tricks to solving problems using regular expressions. The best thing about Friedl’s approach is that he offers insights into the logic behind solving some of the problems presented, a logic that is transferable to many of the problems you will encounter in the IT world.

Chapter 3: Overview of Regular Expression Features and Flavors

While it may seem that your journey in mastering the world of regular expressions is complete, the fact is that regular expressions are used differently in different programs. Here you will learn what some of those differences are which should enable you to know what to expect while working in various environments.

Chapter 4: The Mechanics of Expression Processing

And now to the good stuff! You’ve been shown the building blocks of mastering regular expressions and now it’s time to feel the engine purr! Learning how regular expressions work behind the scenes will greatly enhance how you mold your expression and whether or not it can do the things you want it to do.

Chapter 5: Practical Regex Techniques

Now that you’ve got that 8-cylinder engine roaring, you sure as heck don’t want to lose control of the car and drive it through the yard! Learn how to get only the information you need out of your regular expressions. This will be one of the most important aspects of mastering the language of regular expressions, maturing your use of regular expressions and keeping them understandable as well as manageable.

Chapter 6: Crafting an Efficient Expression

Examine how to create an expression using the NFA allows you to be a true craftsman, truly mastering regular expressions. While previous chapters focused on accuracy in mastering regular expressions, this chapter helps hone your efficiency.

Chapter 7: Perl

Where would we be without putting a major focus on mastering regular expressions using the Perl program? Perl is a robust, fascinating program language easily learned by beginners and wielded by pros. Although regular expressions are a major part of many programs, every Perl program is interlaced with regular expressions, and their use makes Perl all the more powerful.

Learn how Perl gives you regular expression operators while other programs only have stand-alone functionality. Learn about mastering regular expressions with Perl’s regex flavor, and all the advantages that come with it. Regex perlisms are explained in depth with regards to context and dynamic scope. In Mastering Regular Expressions, you will also be treated to various in-depth analysis of operators such as match, substitution, and split.

And, most importantly, learn how to utilize Perl enhancements that supplement using regular expressions.

Chapter 8-10: Java, .NET, PHP

The last three chapters of the book cover topics about mastering regular expressions in other languages as Java, .NET and PHP.

If you are an IT professional, Friedl’s book needs to remain on your desk as a quick reference, a tool to bring to bear when you need critical, efficient programs and, ultimately, a key to truly unlocking your program’s potential. Without learning the regular expressions skills, your IT life can be dull and painful. Using the power of regular expressions language helps you become a more efficient administrator, having fun while challenging yourself and growing an impressive set of skills.

You can see excerpts from this book accessing the page: Mastering Regular Expressions where you can see free preview of this book or subscribe to it in order to have access at the whole thing.



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