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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Outstanding
I bought this book on a whim, mainly because I try to buy (and read... ugh!) a hard-core technical book every month or so, but mainly because my UNIX scripting abilities have become rusty with disuse. I used to be able to write a tight, 10-line csh script to mangledit thousands of files at a single time. Now I hack away at files manually with vi. The other day, I even...
Published on September 26, 2002 by Fruitcake

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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No summary or synopsis, only good for thorough detail.
Get the small pocket reference guide instead of this book! It is difficult to find what you want if you don't know exactly what you are looking for. I admit it covers the subject very well, but if you don't know Regular Expressions thoroughly, you have to read every word of the book or look forever to find what you want. Just buy the pocket reference guide and go to...
Published on October 21, 2005 by Thomas


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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Outstanding, September 26, 2002
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
I bought this book on a whim, mainly because I try to buy (and read... ugh!) a hard-core technical book every month or so, but mainly because my UNIX scripting abilities have become rusty with disuse. I used to be able to write a tight, 10-line csh script to mangledit thousands of files at a single time. Now I hack away at files manually with vi. The other day, I even forgot how to search & replace. My kung fu isn't nearly what it used to be.
It usually takes me about a month to slog through a new book (especially academic texts, which are great but make you want to have a stiff martini before each new chapter) but I tore through Friedl's book in a few days. It's an outstanding reference for understanding & learning to use regular expressions.
Regexes can be cryptic to say the least, but Friedl offers many examples, broken down into step-by-step instructions and explanations of how each regex works (in many cases, right down to the individual character level). He covers a variety of platforms and languages - the hardcore Perl enthusiast will enjoy this book greatly, but he offers fairly equal time to alternative languages like Java and the "grep" family.
All that said, this book is an outstanding technical reference, pure and simple, for two reasons:
- Friedl uses an interesting new typesetting convention to illustrate which sections of text are regular expressions, and which sections are not. It's hard to describe (and impossible to reproduce here) but they look like 90-degree braces at the upper-left and lower-right corners. This is a FANTASTIC approach and I for one would love to see this extended to other technical books.
- Speaking of other things I would love to see extended to other technical books, THIS BOOK HAS ALMOST NO ERRORS! This is even more impressive considering the fact that, with regular expressions, screwing up EVEN A SINGLE CHARACTER is significant. Nothing [upsets]memore than spending $50-100 perfectly good dollars on a sloppy, error-laden, grammatically-challenged, poorly-edited, ill-reviewed and badly-structured book (which pretty much describes 90% of all the technical books out there). He made a few mistakes, the vast majority of which are extremely trivial in nature, and all of which were quickly posted to his website as errata. If only the other 90% of the technical authors out there were even half as diligent.
All told, this book belongs on your bookshelf.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I bought it twice!, January 5, 2003
By 
Bob Nelson (Frisco, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
In spite of the vow that Friedl would not put himself (and his family) through the rigors of writing a followup to his first edition, I sure am glad he made the decision to write a second edition. Over 5 years ago, I got the first such book and found it to be a humbling experience -- realizing just how little I *really* knew about regular expressions (in spite of thinking my skills were quite advanced in that area).
Now, years later and as an instructor of UNIX at North Lake College in Irving, Texas, I highly recommend this book to even our first year students. Friedl's clear explanation of this topic and the manner in which he presents the material makes it comprehensible to even those that have never had experience with regex's before. Like Perl's Larry Wall, Jeffrey Friedl has a strong background in natural languages. That contributes not only to bhis lucid writing style but also helps in terms of understanding regex's as a "little language".
This 2nd edition is particularly welcome because of its extensive coverage of regular expressions in the context of Java. That ons aspect alone is sufficient to get the updated second edition (to say nothing of the enhancements in Perl since the first edition of the book).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Separates the players from the punters, August 12, 2002
By 
Scott E. Packard (Alhambra, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
Regular expressions help you "lex", or make sense of text input to your program in a method much more powerful than your junior college or MCSE program taught you.
In the mid '80's I wrote a lexer/parser/compiler as a class assignment. I definitely used regular expressions in order to break the input down into lexemes so I could generate object code. Back then, we learned regular expressions "the hard way".
This book makes learning them easier. You don't have to be writing a compiler in order to make use of regexes! Spam filtering is my current use for them.
2nd ed. vs. 1st ed.: He attacks the subject more seriously.
He (as far as I can tell) dropped "vi" coverage.
He uses Perl 5.8 for his examples, though has chapters for the most popular regex engines, including VB.NET.
Summary: I think it's easier to follow and more business-oriented than the 1st edition, though don't toss the 1st edition. You'll need them both.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Guide to Regular Expressions, May 28, 2003
By 
John Nolley II (Fairfax, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
Most computer programmers have heard of regular expressions, discussed in hushed tones and conjuring images of Unix gurus and their incomprehensible commands and godlike mastery of their systems, yet few actually know enough about regular expressions or how they work to do more than a simple word match using one, if that.
This book covers regular expressions from top to bottom in great and exhaustive detail, including the hows and whys of performance and supported features between the different engines that process them. Though geared mainly toward Perl, the examples and text will apply to nearly any system that provides support, from PHP to ASP to Python.
The text is fairly dense and is not exactly geared toward the novice programmer, though. I've had classes in Finite State Machines and still had to really apply my grey matter in a few spots to understand everything being discussed. However, the understanding the reader gains upon completion of the text is invaluable and will expand one's programming potential exponentially.
The one real lack of the book is a good overview and quick-reference card, but on the whole, the book is a good selection from the O'Reilly library and well worth the read of any serious programmer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give it 6 stars!, December 30, 2002
This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
The book is a perfection! Everything is excellent here: style, accuracy, language. Jeffrey managed to give formal and complete coverage of formal parts of regular expressions together with detailed explanations of WHEN and HOW certain expressions should be used in real world.
Use of regular expressions can turn into a mess because usually there are many ways of mapping given task to regular expressions. When going through every practical task, Jeffrey Friedl carefully explains what variant should be used and why. To let readers check their understanding, author often puzzles them with brief tasks that readers are supposed to solve and verify the answer on a next page. I enjoyed every puzzle, and it really helped me to master my skills. While still reading the book, I was able within a few hours to write a simple RE-based parser for my work.
Highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible Of Regular Expressions, June 9, 2005
By 
Dan McKinnon (Tewksbury, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
Back in 2000 I had to complete some task and another engineer said "Use a Regular Expression". Ignorant of what a regular expression was, I got a quick explanation from the programmer who brought it up, and then I quickly got Perl to do what I needed, learning how powerful regular expressions are. Regular expressions are like that magical elixir, that wonderful little secret that was created to fix specific little problems, and man when you need them, they do the job better than almost any other.

If you are reading this review, you probably have some background as to what regular expressions are, but in a nutshell, they quickly let you find a particular search string and then modify it as needed. Regular expressions have their own ruleset as to how these searches/replacements are performed, and in order to learn how to write good RegExs, you need the book 'Mastering Regular Expressions'. You will not find a Regular Expression reference as good as this book by Jeffery Friedl, and I challenge you to look for yourself!

If you ever need to parse through a lot of data, whether it be logs or just finding a particular piece of code, you will save yourself a lot of time and gain much in performance by learning how to use Regular Expressions to accomplish the task(s) at hand. Having this book by your side will make that journey all the easier, and you will find lots of great examples pre-written, and new approaches as to how to write better RegExs to complete your tasks by having this text by your side. It's binary folks, if you use RegExs in your line of work, you need this book, you will not be let down!!

***** HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible of RegEx, April 29, 2004
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
One of the hardest things, even for a seasoned programmer to grasp is regular expressions. They are powerful ways to search, manipulate and parse text fields and can often take several lines of code and shrink it down to a mystic, but powerful, expression.
If you have ever had to parse a file for information, you know that one of the things that still haunts any programmer nowadays is how to match text. In this day and age of Object Oriented Programming, Web Services, etc. the power of Regex holds firm.
Throughout this book the author takes great care not to overwhelm the reader with tons of code that has no meaning. The power of the book comes from the fact that if you read, and follow along, through the examples you will gain an understanding of how to do the techniques the author is referring to. At times it may seem like you have to read over a section twice, but you will realize that as you carry forth into the next section the material you read previously has turned into something you can now apply -- not just another example you can cut and paste and never really learn technique behind.
This is a powerful book, covering many, many pages. Noone should expect to sit down and read it cover to cover and be done with it. The benefit comes from reading, applying, and referencing. I find myself using it several times a week to lookup information on Regular Expressions and to held solidify knowledge of techniques that I have used in the past.
Whether you are a Windows, Unix, or even Macintosh person -- RegEx holds the key to text manipulation -- and this book holds the map you need to find that key.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide to regular expressions, April 26, 2003
By 
Jason (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
Regular Expressions ("regexes" for short), have been officially integrated into Java with the release of J2SE 1.4. While many Java developers are just discovering them, they have been a fixture in other languages and tools for quite some time. Regular expressions are powerful tools for performing all kinds of text processing, but they require no small amount of knowledge to use effectively and efficiently. This is where "Mastering Regular Expressions" comes to the rescue.
The book's nine chapters are categorized into three sections. The book first teaches the basics of regular expressions, crafting simple regexes, and the different features and flavors available in various regex packages. Next, the reader is given invaluable information about how the different types of regular expression engines work, as well as techniques for crafting practical and efficient expressions. The final section covers language specific issues in Perl, Java, and .NET.
The author does an outstanding job leading the reader from regex novice to master. The book is extremely easy to read and chock full of useful and relevant examples. The author offers up questions along the way designed to engage the reader to apply what he has learned. In-line references to other parts of the book containing information pertinent the particular topic being discussed are also very helpful.
Regular expressions are valuable tools that every developer should have in their toolbox. "Mastering Regular Expressions" is the definitive guide to the subject, and an outstanding resource that belongs on every programmer's bookshelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this book and get over your fear, April 14, 2004
This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
Regular expressions always terrified me. I really got tired of looking for related examples on the 'net and hacking sample code so I decided I had to take the plunge.
I can say that the first chapter of this book is one of the most important chapters of any book I ever read. It leaves you breathless. Actually you'll probably want to read it again as the first time round you were so glued to the pages you didn't have time to try out the examples yourself.
In a book such as this layout and typographical conventions are of utmost importance and this book gets this spot on. An author who can cover this subject without simply using masses of examples and dry outlines of selected syntax arrangements deserves an acolade. This book goes further. It stimulates the juices and is a struggle to put down (to the detriment of your hands-on practice as mentioned above).
I was quite wary of exploring the territory of regular expressions and used to be very ambivalent towards Perl but this book helped to ease me in to a whole new world of script programming.
This book is not just for Perl geeks. PCREs (Perl Compatible Regular Expressions) are creeping into other programming and scripting languages now and this book will serve you no matter where you're coming from.
Get this book and get over your fear!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Regex Book, September 28, 2005
By 
M. Kirsch (Cedar Hills, UT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition (Paperback)
I have known about regular expressions for a long time, but they have always been some kind of mysterious secret code. Recently I was reading something else that pointed out the power of regular expressions, so I decided it was time to learn regular expressions once and for all. After reviewing the available books on Amazon, I chose this one. I was not disappointed.

After reading just the first few chapters, I have been able to put them to work and make my life a lot easier. As a software engineer, I'm always doing searches through code or search/replace operations. I am now able to do more precise searches and do search/replace operations I never dreamed were possible before.

Learn regular expressions now! Get this book!
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Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition
Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition by Jeffrey E F Friedl (Paperback - July 15, 2002)
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