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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2013
When I first received this book through the post - what initially struck me was just how small and thin from a purely physical perspective it was. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, but everything about this product seemed to follow this initial first impression of being deeply underwhelming.

Although officially around the 150 odd pages mark, it's probably a lot closer to 100 once you've taken out the large diagrams (which in my opinion are not needed) and the other normal format related and organisational fluff. Again underwhelming. The author's writing style is informal which is ok, but he never drops down deep enough into the details of the subject either - which makes for a read that I imagine would be not to disimilar from talking about Regular Expressions with some bloke in the pub.

That's probably the biggest flaw, just not enough detail. Not enough information for which you can sink your teeth into. Maybe I've just been spoilt by the likes of David Flanagan amongst other O'Reilly writers who write about their subjects in such all-encompassing specifics that's it's almost borderline excessive (in a good way). Flanagan's previous work for example include JavaScript: The Definitive Guide - a book that exceeds a thousand pages, provides an API reference and describes how the very underlying mechanisms of the language work - all without the need for overly large pretty pictures. And hey, maybe the author himself recognised this short coming because he frequently (and some what patronisingly) tells us to 'smell the syntax' or something along those lines which is basically to fiddle around and run code repeatedly till we just magically 'get it'. Excuse my indignation, but if I wanted to employ that sort of moronic, brute force type of strategy I wouldn't have bothered to pick up a book in the first place. How about treating us like adults and telling us how a regular expression actually groups together ?

After reading this book, I still don't know how regular expressions work in any reasonable depth - I imagine therefore that myself and anyone else would struggle to write any form of customised code. There are some nice examples in here though that do some fancy stuff but I doubt I would be limited to just those problem areas in any real situation.

I therefore find it hard to recommend this book, even for complete beginners. You can find better more concise information freely available on the internet than what's available in this. I also feel mildly ripped off thanks to it being a short book with plenty of padding. This should have been a pocket reference type book, a miniature/compact series that O'Reilly does on occasion - what would have been an average pocket reference thus makes for a shoddy full blown book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2012
From a point of view based on one needed a revision aid to RegEx, I found this book very useful. Not only did it give a helpful historical background to the topic, it gave pointers to some new RegEx tools (both standalone or web-based) to practice on and explain the concepts in a clear and precise manner with practical examples. Older utilities like sed, grep and Perl also were mentioned. The footer notes as well link to resources which will help the beginner expand on this basic knowledge.
Overall, a good starting point.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2012
Basically, if you have never ever used regular expressions before, this book is for you. It will guide you through the most basic and most common patterns used within regular expressions world. There are lots of examples and lots of tools presented inside the book.

It goes like this. Michael starts with setting reader a high target by introducing complex example just at the beginning. But this is just a means of setting finish line. Throughout the book he will show you how to reach this target by starting from most common, very basic examples and then by gradually increasing the complexity of presented expressions.

There are few tools presented that can make your life easier. In various flavors (web based, standalone) for various systems (Windows, Linux, Mac). This is a benefit, because by trying all of them (you will be forced to do it if you want to follow examples) you will be able to find one that fits you best.

One drawback of the book. There are no clear statements which expressions work for particular syntax (e.g. Perl, Java, Ruby, etc.). This may be a little stopper if you try given expression in slightly different environment than one presented in a book.

If you are looking for comprehensive list of various expressions in the context of various syntaxes take a look here instead: Regular Expressions Cookbook by Jan Goyvaerts and Steven Levithan.
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