- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 3 edition (August 18, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0596528124
- ISBN-13: 978-0596528126
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mastering Regular Expressions 3rd Edition
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"Indispensable for text processing wizards and regex newcomers alike." - Paul Hudson, Linux Format, February 2007 "In addition to the sheer volume of information, one thing that sets this book apart is that the author uses "real-world" rather than contrived examples. A few of the examples were situations that I have yet to come across, but many were either "been there, done that" or things that I had to go out and try." - James Mohr, Linux Magazine, April 2007
About the Author
Jeffrey Friedl was raised in the countryside of Rootstown, Ohio, and had aspirations of being an astronomer until one day he noticed a TRS-80 Model I sitting unused in the corner of the chem lab (bristling with a full 16K of RAM, no less). He eventually began using Unix (and regular expressions) in 1980, and earned degrees in Computer Science from Kent (BS) and the University of New Hampshire (MS). He did kernel development for Omron Corporation in Kyoto, Japan for eight years before moving in 1997 to Silicon Valley to apply his regular-expression know-how to financial news and data for a little-known company called "Yahoo!"
When faced with the daunting task of filling his copious free time, Jeffrey enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and basketball with friends at Yahoo!, programming his house, and feeding the squirrels and jays in his back yard. He also enjoys spending time with his wife Fumie, and preparing for the Fall 2002 release of their first "software project" together.
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Top Customer Reviews
I use this book frequently as I write my Perl scripts and need to find a solution to a complex problem. Friedl's writing style makes this an easy read and, hence, the concepts are understandable and accessible without having to be verbose and unnecessarily techy.
It's worth every penny if your a developer, programmer or the occasional script writer.
Stylistically and structurally, this is one of the most unique O'Reilly publications I have read. The author even says in the early chapters to think of the book as a novel, and not as a reference (the book's structure doesn't really lend itself to being a reference book anyways). The mindset that the author applies to his writing makes a discernable difference in how the book reads, and it feels more like a chronological story and less like a textbook as a result. Even the quizzes that the author scatters throughout the book are treated as part of the "story", and the solutions are on the very next page rather than in the back of the book or at the end of the chapter. As a result, the book is very easy to read, and flows extremely well. It feels much less like a textbook and more like a narrated lesson from an enjoyable professor.
With a topic as muddy and potentially confusing as regex, I was worried that the text would be just as confusing to follow. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The text itself is very well written, and very clear. There was never an instance in which I had trouble comprehending what the author was trying to communicate, and I almost never had to go back and re-read something multiple times to grasp the concept.
Furthermore, the text is full of excellent examples with accompanying explanations. The author almost exclusively teaches through example, and as a result, most of the lessons are extremely practical and great real-world applications. All of the code examples (of which there are many page-long instances of) are very well documented, and easy to understand.
Regex really is one of the most portable utilities that exists in the UNIX world. It can be applied to an enormous number of situations, and is interoperable with a laundry list of other tools and languages. As such, regex is not only a tool, but a general concept that must be grasped prior to proper usage - and this is what the first several chapters focus on. Thinking about problems in terms of regex is something that takes practice, and does not come easily to most people. This book tends to teach through example, and jumps right into matching simple regex to text lines to demonstrate how regex works. This brings me to my next point.
This book is not for beginners. I cannot stress this enough. The chapters not specifically aimed at a language require solid knowledge of a structured language like C++ or Java. Granted, the book really won't appeal to anyone that doesn't use computers on an advanced level on a regular basis; however, what I want to stress is that regardless of the reader's level of computer experience, if the reader does not have advanced knowledge of text handling in serious computer languages, most of the book's content will be too complex.
On the same note, and this is not a bad thing, about half the book is language-specific. There is a chapter for Perl, PHP, and Java. Obviously, if you don't know these languages, then most of the content of these chapters will be useless. This is not to say that the book will be useless to you if you don't know these languages - the non-language specific chapters occupy a large portion of the book, and contain more than enough material to master regex - however, the reader should be aware that just under half the book is aimed at specific languages.
Overall, this book is nothing short of fantastic. The audience for it is very limited - however, the author manages to make a concept difficult to understand, and even harder to master, easy to read about and learn. Clearly, a lot of thought went into the craft and design of this book, and it shows. I would highly recommend this book to any programmer, system administrator, or computer power user.
Further, because this book shares a similar title and cover as the Regex Pocket Reference by O'Reilly Media, I had mistakenly assumed that this book also shared its coverage of Ruby specifics. It does not. If you are a rubinest you'll find scant references to Ruby at all; Tcl gets more attention than Ruby.
On the other hand, if you're into Perl or PHP (I am not, obviously) you'll find a lot of value in this book. Dive right in.
I encourage the author and editors to decouple regex and language-specific implementations in future editions.
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