on 7 January 2004
I bought, read and thoroughly enjoyed the first edition of this book, and was actually surprised to find the second edition a few years later, since I thought Jeffrey Friedl must have already said all there was to say about the subject, so complete was edition 1. However, I soon found a lot of useful new information in edition 2 (e.g. look-behind), beautifully explained as ever. Both editions are well-written IMO, although I wouldn't call them "easy reads". They are not really for dipping into, but for settling down with, although I can only usually manage a couple of chapters at a time, but I always come back. They are "satisfying reads", and somewhat addictive; I think they appeal to the nit-picker in me. For dipping into, perhaps the "Regular Expression Pocket Reference" (by a different author) will be better - I haven't read it yet. But if you actually want to understand REs (and they occur widely in the UNIX/Linux world that I inhabit :-) ), this book is a must.
As a bonus, it is also a rather good introduction to Perl (5.8 in the 2nd edition), but of course, REs are not confined to Perl, as the author makes clear.
My only criticism is actually of the paper quality of the 2nd edition, which is odd, since the 1st edition's paper was recycled and acid-free, which this is apparently not, but it looks cheap and nasty. I think Jeffrey Friedl deserves better.
on 7 August 2002
I welcome the second edition of this book; it's five years since the first edition, which was showing its age. Coverage of Regular Expressions in Perl and Java is thorough and now up to date (Perl 5.8, Java 1.4), and if you're looking to do serious pattern matching in either of those languages, get yourself a copy.
I run training courses in Perl and Java, and this book is one I'll be telling my trainees about. I'm disappointed at the scant coverage of some of the other regular expression flavours that I also teach, such as PHP, Tcl, Ruby and MySQL - the more general chapters are still of use to programmers in those languages, but the book is short on language-specific detail and examples.
on 14 December 2003
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It goes far behind simply using regExps but into efficiency and alternate strategies. Covers implementation in many languages (java, perl, .net) yet is still quite easy to understand.
The author says the aim of the book is to get you to "think in regular expressions", this is a great approach and I now find myself using regular expressions to do just about everything involving text.
Well recommended if you really want to understand and use regular expressions
You really can't go wrong here - buying this book and investing a little time to learn Regular Expressions can double your efficiency as a coder - they save me countless hours in my job as a web developer for a major ISP, I couldn't live without Regular Expressions, and I couldn't live without this book!