Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Art Of Regular Expressions

I have been playing with Perl now for the last couple of years, somewhat actively. My playing turned into a job when I accepted the position that I am presently in. Before I found this job though, my last job was kind enough to offer online, self-paced CBT type training that you could do in your own time. So, I took a gander at it and they had a number of Perl courses.

Now, I am ALWAYS learning and can usually be found with a computer book somewhere in my vicinity pretty much most of the day. I never miss a chance to learn something new if I can help it. That said though, I still will admit that there is nothing like some of the training you can find that gets right down to the nitty gritty without beating around the bush. This is especially true when you are trying to get a solid base in the basics of whatever you are learning.

The CBT's that my last job provided me access to did just that. Not only did they give me a really good understanding and grounding in Perl basics, but they also gave a really good lesson on Regular Expressions.

Regex's (as they are also affectionately referred to) can be some of the most elusive topics to get a grasp on in Perl. I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but the course that I took gave me an incredible head start into the world of regex's.

Before that course, I knew a fair amount about using pattern matching in Unix. I was quite adept at shell scripting and could write an awk script or two to do what I needed to. But, when it came to Perl's regex capabilities, I was lacking. ***BAM*** Then came that course. It truely opened my eyes to the overwhelming beauty and seductive power that Perl regex's have.

With a little "to-the-point" training and guidance, I think anyone can easily get a grounding in Perl regex's. In fact, I think I am going to add on to this blog and start a column regarding regex's. I will not only post some mini lessons on regex's, designed to further your knowledge in how to assemble regex's, but also examples of regex's that I have written as well, that work for the purpose they were created. Hopefully all of that will provide you a new route for reference when trying to use regex's.

I think I will call the new column "TAOREs" (for The Art Of Regular Expressions). I hope that you enjoy and also contribute any suggestions that you may have as well.

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