January 31, 2007
TechBookReport on 'Mastering Regular Expressions'
TBR writes "Like SQL and XML, regular expressions are an essential tool in every developers' toolbox. Processing text, which is pretty much what most programs do when you think about it, is so central a concern that even without regular expressions most developers quickly build up a library of functions and idioms for text matching, replacement, parsing, token extraction etc. Regular expressions go a whole lot further and are, in effect, a specialised language for text processing in all its messy glory. The downside to this extra power is that it comes at a price - regular expressions have a reputation for being difficult to craft, difficult to debug and difficult to read. No wonder that regular expressions are often seen as the preserve of obscurantist hackers who make a virtue of impossible to decipher Perl one-liners."