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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2005
One of the most difficult things when working with regular expressoins -- at least for me -- is dealing with different implementations (i.e., Perl, Java, Python, PHP, UNIX tools, etc.) The basics of regexes and pattern matching don't vary all that much, but each implementation is just different enough that the smae line of code can yield different results. If you work with more than one of these implementations, keeping track of differences in metacharacters and metasequences can be nearly impossible. This is especially true when -- as is the case with me -- you deal with regexes somewhat intermittently.

This is one of the main reasons why the "Regular Expression Pocket Reference"

was written and this is why I keep it close at hand. This book will not really teach you how to use regexes, nor will it tell you how to use, say, Perl. If, however, you use Perl and you know how to use regexes but just can't remember whether you can disallow backtracking for text matched by a subpattern, then this book will save you quite a bit of time and effort.

If you're wondering what it means to "disallow backtracking for text matched by a subpattern," or when you would want to use it, buy "Mastering Regular Expressions" or a similar title. The "Regular Expression Pocket Reference" is designed to be a quick reference tool, and it serves this purpose very well. I would recommend it especially for those who work with regular expressions intermittently or who work with several different implementations.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2003
I love this series of books (the C#, C++ and STL pocket refs are my favorite), but the Regular Expression pocket ref tries to cover too many implementations. You only get about 10 pages for each language so, unless you use multiple implementations (e.g. C#/.NET, Perl, JavaScript, etc), this just isn't good value for money. I returned my copy and printed out a quick reference from one of the many Internet programming sites.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2003
The editorial blurb on this book suggests that it can be used as a tutorial by those new to regular expressions. That's not the case. This book is strictly a reference, albeit a very good one. I bought O'Reilly's "Mastering Regular Expressions" to learn the area, and I use this book as a quick reference. It serves that purpose very well.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
It's nearly impossible to memorize all the minutiae of regular expressions, especially over multiple language implementations. Tony Stubblebine's book Regular Expression Pocket Reference by O'Reilly is a nice way to help you out without digging through endless pages.

Chapter List: About This Book; Introduction To Regexes And Pattern Matching; Perl 5.8; Java (java.util.regex); .NET And C#; Python; PCRE Lib; PHP; vi Editor; JavaScript; Shell Tools; Index

Like most pocket references, this book is small (93 pages), but there's a lot of information packed into a small space. Each implementation chapter covers the metacharacters and metasequences that are supported in the language's implementation of regular expressions. This is followed by the language functions, examples of regular expressions, and a list of additional resources the reader can use to learn more about regular expressions in that language. If you don't know anything about the subject, this book (in my opinion) isn't going to help you out much. It assumes that you already understand the material and you're looking for a reference guide to find quick answers. And that's fine. This book has a definite purpose and target audience, and I think it does a very nice job of hitting the mark.

For me, this would be a perfect companion book to Mastering Regular Expressions (also by O'Reilly). Mastering is considered one of the definitive volumes on the subject, and having this pocket guide on hand to jog your memory on lesser-used points would be perfect.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 7, 2003
If you've ever picked up a copy of O'Reilly's Mastering Regular Expressions, then you'll feel right at home with this book. The Pocket Reference is all about usability, and this book is no exception. If you've never seen Mastering Regular Expressions, then this book takes the most important aspects of that book into about 80 pages.
This book is basically divided into various languages (Perl, C, Java, C#) with examples on how to use regular expressions with each language. In addition to discussing the built-in language specific functions that you should use, there is discussion on the differences and nuances to using regular expressions in the specific language.
If you need a desktop quick reference on regular expressions, then I would highly recommend this book. I have it next to my desk with the .NET section bookmarked. If you need something with a little more depth and explanation, then I would suggest picking up a copy of O'Reilly's Mastering Regular Expressions.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I recommend getting this book
if you feel comfortable with regular expressions
and regular expressions are important to you.
As one expects from an O'Reilly Pocket Reference,
this book is compact but still covers a lot of ground.
For a whole bunch of applications, it provides:
* tables of various groupings of regex metacharacters,
summarizing their syntax and meaning;
* summaries of other regex related features,
but not in tabular form;
* examples;
* a few references in case you need to go deeper.
The information is concise and well chosen.
This is a reference,
but in applications where you use regular expressions less,
it may also be useful for expanding your knowledge significantly.
It was for me.
If you wish, take a look at my
more detailed review on Oakland Perl Mongers.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2006
This is not a learning text by any stretch of the imagination. Covering the basic implementation of Regular Expressions in Perl, Java, .NET, C#, Python, PCRE, PHP, vi Editor, JavaScript, and a few shell utilities, this title is well suited as a quick "cheat sheet" for those already familiar, often providing the required information in just the "Supported Metacharacters" section.

Although around 90 (small) pages, the book repeats the same 8-page sequence for each of the aforementioned languages, tweaked as needed. Although handy for those that regularly use multiple languages, the book's format could have been made more efficient.

Those looking for just an as-needed reminder, this title meets your needs. For those looking to learn Regular Expressions, Mastering Regular Expressions (3rd Edition) by Jeffrey Friedl (ISBN: 0596528124) is where you should start.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2007
This is a handy little guide for common regular expression fundamentals and odds and ends. The intro chapter does a nice job of giving you the regex elevator speech and hits all the important fundamentals: different engines, metacharacters, and general pattern rules. There's also a regex "Cookbook" section; however, that bit is only two pages and the "recipes" there are so rudimentary that they're nearly useless and would have been better left to a different book.

The remaining chapters hit regex support in major languages, Apache, shells, and Vi and Vim editors. These sections are very well done and give you great guidance to regex implementations on that platform, plus give you guidance on the APIs you'll need for working with regexes. Languages covered include Perl 5.8, Java 1.5/1.6, .NET framework with examples in C#, PHP, Python, Ruby, Python and JavaScript. The Perl Compatible Regular Expression library (PCRE) is also covered.

Each chapter is concise, well-written and hits the major things you'll need to refresh your memory on from time to time.

Overall it's a very well done book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2008
I'm scared of regular expressions. They vex me constantly at work whether trying to figure out someone else's Apache RewriteRules or Perl or just trying myself to do mildly clever things in vi and sed. They are a headache.

A coworker let me browse his copy of this wonderful little book and I was hooked. I actually tried to buy one that day on the way home, but they were out of stock and so I permitted Amazon to ship me one.

In addition to brief explanations of the different types of regexes in the wild (based on the comprehensive Mastering title, also from ORA), there are detailed quick references to all of the different implementations including several common languages (Perl, PHP, C#, and several others) and software packages (including sed, Apache, vi and many others). All of their various quicks and "features" are explained briefly and there are some examples.

No one hacking around in Unix or doing much programming should be without this book, unless they are already a regex wizard, and I think even they'd find it handy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2007
"Regular Expression - Pocket Reference" is just as high in quality as it's big brother ("Mastering Regular Expressions.")

The book begins with a very brief review of regular expression concepts and patterns. For each language/tool, the book includes tables to reference the metacharacters, a reference for the API/syntax/library and four examples. A few of the languages have additional examples tailored specifically to that language.

The languages/tools included are: Perl, Java, .NET, PHP, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, PCRE, Apache Web Server, vi and awk/sed/egrep. If you use a number of these, the book is a concise reference. If you only use one, you would be better served by printing out the relevant reference charts from the website of your language of choice.

If you are learning about regular expressions or only going to buy one regular expressions book, I recommend the "Mastering Regular Expressions." If you are knowledgeable about regular expressions and just need a review or reference, this book does the job nicely.
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