Regular Expression Pocket Reference
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: August 2003
Pages: 112

Regular expressions are such a powerful tool for manipulating text and data that anyone who uses a computer can benefit from them. Composed of a mixture of symbols and text, regular expressions can be an outlet for creativity, for brilliant programming, and for the elegant solution. While a command of regular expressions is an invaluable skill, all there is to know about them fills a very large volume, and you don't always have time to thumb through hundreds of pages each time a question arises. The answer is the Regular Expression Pocket Reference. Concise and easy-to-use, this little book is the portable companion to Mastering Regular Expressions.

This handy guide offers programmers a complete overview of the syntax and semantics of regular expressions that are at the heart of every text-processing application. Ideal as an introduction for beginners and a quick reference for advanced programmers, Regular Expression Pocket Reference is a comprehensive guide to regular expression APIs for C, Perl, PHP,Java, .NET, Python, vi, and the POSIX regular expression libraries.

O'Reilly's Pocket References have become a favorite among programmers everywhere. By providing a wealth of important details in a concise, well-organized format, these handy books deliver just what you need to complete the task at hand. When you've reached a sticking point and need to get to a solution quickly, the new Regular Expression Pocket Reference is the book you'll want to have.

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Somewhat vague and slightly out of focus

By av

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Regular Expression Pocket Reference:

In some cases, this book can be useful to quickly find a piece of info for one of the specifically covered tools. But it leaves something to be desired and I look forward for an amended edition.

The generic part is obviously minimal, but it could have been more accurate: it mentions that syntax and availability vary by implementation, but never attempts to classify which implements which. Not even the distinction between BRE and ERE. Character representations described in pages 5-13 are good for a lecture on "most available types of regular expressions": a rather vague concept.

By comparison, Perl Pocket Reference's chapter on regex is both more concise and more accurate than

Regular Expression Pocket Reference's chapter on Perl. However, the latter features a discussion on operators for regex and some examples that may make it clearer than the former. A complete example, using perl's command line options -i, -p, and -e, is missing.

There are repetitions, e.g. tables 26-30 for PCRE are reprinted exactly alike, except for different page breaks, as tables 31-35 for PHP's perl-compatible regex.

Emacs is missing. Is it less popular than vi?


A Review of Regular Expression Pocket Reference""

By G. Roush

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Regular Expression Pocket Reference:

One of the most difficult things when working with regular expressoins -- at least for me -- is dealing with different implementations (i.e., Perl, Java, Python, PHP, UNIX tools, etc.) The basics of regexes and pattern matching don't vary all that much, but each implementation is just different enough that the smae line of code can yield different results. If you work with more than one of these implementations, keeping track of differences in metacharacters and metasequences can be nearly impossible. This is especially true when -- as is the case with me -- you deal with regexes somewhat intermittently.

This is one of the main reasons why the "Regular Expression Pocket Reference"

was written and this is why I keep it close at hand. This book will not really teach you how to use regexes, nor will it tell you how to use, say, Perl. If, however, you use Perl and you know how to use regexes but just can't remember whether you can disallow backtracking for text matched by a subpattern, then this book will save you quite a bit of time and effort.

If you're wondering what it means to "disallow backtracking for text matched by a subpattern," or when you would want to use it, buy "Mastering Regular Expressions" or a similar title. The "Regular Expression Pocket Reference" is designed to be a quick reference tool, and it serves this purpose very well. I would recommend it especially for those who work with regular expressions intermittently or who work with several different implementations.


Regular Expression Pocket Reference Review

By George Woolley of

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Regular Expression Pocket Reference:

I recommend getting this book if you feel comfortable with regular expressions and regular expressions are important to you.

As one expects from an O'Reilly Pocket Reference, this book is compact but still covers a lot of ground.

For a whole bunch of applications, it provides: tables of various groupings of regex metacharacters' summarizing their syntax and meaning, summaries of other regex related features but not in tabular form, examples, and a few references in case you need to go deeper. The information is concise and well chosen.

This is a reference, but in applications where you use regular expressions less, it may also be useful for expanding your knowledge significantly.

It was for me.

If you wish, take a look at my more detailed review (

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