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on 9 September 2013
I am drawn to report on a book I have owned for many years, because it seems to have fewer stars here than it deserves. I think this is because of problems some folks have had with electronic formats. I do see their point, but this is unfair to the editorial content.

So. The following applies to the *paperback* book.

In practice Freidl's book is primarily a programmer's reference. But like the best references (eg the C Programming Language) is formatted as a tutorial.

Introductory chapters establish a need for regexs, giving a brief history and presenting some straightforward use cases.

Thereafter Mr Freidl wades deeper into the waters of obscurity, and we are soon dealing with the minutiae of mode modifiers and greedy versus lazy quantifiers.

Some of this stuff goes rather deeper than I have ever needed to go. For example, opening the book at random to page 245, I read the subheadings 'Pre-check of required character/substring optimization' and 'Length-cognizance optimization'. Not of immediate use to me, but I am glad to know where I can find this if ever (heaven forfend) the performance of my application depends on the construction of regexs.

The last chapters of the book deal with the respective peculiarities and APIs of the regex implementations of Perl, Java, .NET and PHP. This last bit feels a little out of date - an updated edition would, I suppose, highlight JavaScript and other languages that have become important or gained regex implementations since the 2006 edition, eg C++ 11 and even Delphi. Meanwhile Perl's star has faded somewhat since the book was last revised; perhaps it should no longer be the 'default' language of example?

But this is nit-picking. I dare say it is possible to resolve any regex difficulty with a little applied Googling; but to have this book on your shelf is to know that you have an articulate, clear and complete explanation close to hand.
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on 15 September 2010
Before reading the book I thought I knew regular expressions (ala the xkcd comic); the main reason for purchasing this was to try and learn how to optimise patterns I was making.

Having read the book I can safely say that I knew how to use regex in fairly complex scenarios, but I didn't how it actually worked - this book teaches you how the matches are actually made by the engine and shows you how to exploit this knowledge to get the fastest matches.

Reading through the book you can see a lot of work has gone into its production - there are a lot of thoughtful inter-relating examples; content is well laid out and there are quite a lot of useful diagrams at different points throughout the book.

Even if you think you're a regex hot shot you should still buy this book, you won't regret it!

(if you know regex before reading the book I'd recommend taking the author's advice and reading the book fully - it may feel like he's covering stuff you already know but he includes useful titbits of information along the way)
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on 3 July 2013
I bought this book to help build up an understanding of regular expressions (regex), after finding the information on the internet confusing and fragmented. This book does a good job of explaining regex, it's benefits, it's uses and various implentations. I initially needed the book to be able to identify specifc content in emails (dates/product numbers), but now find I use them all the time when working with text for anything but the most basic string operations.

Would recommend this for any programmer who does not already know regular expressions or that needs to get a thorough understanding. As long as you use strings you will be able to draw some benefit.

As for me, I wonder how I ever managed without!
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on 13 December 2012
al the examples in tables were cut ou
so one couldn't figure out what the sentence actually meant making all practical examples useless and all information presented in tables equally useless

quickly browsed and immediately requested a refund when i noticed this
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on 22 February 2013
O'Reilly appears to have abandoned traditional offset printing and is now using a very poor-quality print-on-demand system. The result is that the pages look like fairly bad photocopies which are hard to read.

I'll be avoiding all O'Reilly manuals from now on (unless I can track down one of the older properly printed ones), which is a pity because the content is well-written. The poor print quality does a great disservice to the author.
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on 5 August 2014
A perfect book to start to manage RegEx!
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