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Regular Expressions

Beginning Regular Expressions

Beginning Regular Expressions is about twice the size as Introducing Regular Expressions, however about 1/2 of the content of this book can be completely skipped or ignored. To start, this book is aimed for Windows developers, so all of the examples are Windows centric. While reading this book, I mainly followed along, using grep in Linux. The core regex concepts can be carried over from whatever Windows application is being described in the book, to grep or sed in Linux. So the fact that this book was originally aimed for Windows developers shouldn’t be a major drawback for anyone coming from the Linux or Unix world.

The examples described in this book are fairly outdated (book originally published in 2005), with possibly many being deprecated at this point. For example in the PHP regex chapter, some of the examples were described using the old deprecated PHP 5.x ereg(i), split(i) functions. Speaking of which, I honestly feel showcasing regular expressions in distinct languages is completely unnecessary. This book goes as far as covering regular expressions in JavaScript, VB, VB.Net, C#, Java, PHP, and Perl (of which I skipped reading most all these chapters).

Thus said, the first ten chapters in book are really good. It covers the core regular expression concepts very well. I felt they were more comprehensible compared to Introducing Regular Expressions.

Rating: 3/5

Beginning Regular Expressions

Chapter 1: Introduction to Regular Expressions
Chapter 2: Regular Expression Tools and an Approach to Using Them
Chapter 3: Simple Regular Expressions
Chapter 4: Metacharacters and Modifiers
Chapter 5: Character Classes
Chapter 6: String, Line, and Word Boundaries
Chapter 7: Parentheses in Regular Expressions
Chapter 8: Lookahed and Lookbehind
Chapter 9: Sensitivity and Specificity of Regular Expressions
Chapter 10: Documenting and Debugging Regular Expressions
Chapter 11: Regular Expressions with Microsoft Word
Chapter 12: Regular Expressions in StartOffice/Open Office Writer
Chapter 13: Regular Expressions Using findstr
Chapter 14: PowerGREP
Chapter 15: Wildcards in Microsoft Excel
Chapter 16: Regular Expressions Functionality in SQL Server 2000
Chapter 17: Using Regular Expressions with MySQL
Chapter 18: Regular Expressions in Microsoft Access
Chapter 19: Regular Expressions in Jscript and JavaScript
Chapter 20: Regular Expressions and VBScript
Chapter 21: Visual Basic .Net and Regular Expressions
Chapter 22: C# and Regular Expressions
Chapter 23: PHP and Regular Expressions
Chapter 24: Regular Expressions in W3C XML Schema
Chapter 25: Regular Expressions in JavaScript
Chapter 26: Regular Expressions in Perl

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Introducing Regular Expressions

Introducing Regular Expressions, is as it names implies, an introductory book to Regular Expressions. This book assumes you don’t have much knowledge in Regular Expressions. Regex’s are somewhat of an extremely complex topic, and although this book is just an introduction to them, I definitely learn a few new things.

This book starts of teaching the basic concepts of regular expressions, you'll learn important regex concepts like character classes, metacharacters, grouping, backrefernces, quantifiers, etc. Each chapter progresses on top of what each topic was covered, so it’s not a good idea to skip ahead! I really enjoyed that practically all of the examples covered in this book were using grep, sed, and perl, since these are tools that I use practically almost on a daily basis.

I’ve been using regular expressions for almost as long as I’ve been using Linux (14+ years), and I’ve learned new topics that I wasn’t very much knowledgeable in like lookarounds. Also, I’ve been lucky to work only with ASCII characters for all the regular expressions that I’ve needed to write. This book does an excellent job describing how to work with Unicode characters using foreign language as examples. Finally, I learned how the the regex engine underneath the hood works when we pass in lazy, greedy, and possessive quantifier expressions to our regex patterns.

Rating: 3/5
Introducing Regular Expressions

Chapter 1: What Is a Regular Expression?
Chapter 2: Simple Pattern Matching
Chapter 3: Boundaries
Chapter 4: Alternation, Groups, and Backreferences
Chapter 5: Character Classes
Chapter 6: Matching Unicode and Other Characters
Chapter 7: Quantifiers
Chapter 8: Lookarounds
Chapter 9: Marking Up a Document with HTML
Chapter 10: The End of the Beginning

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