Author: Jan Goyvaerts & Steven Levithan
Publisher: O'Reilly ,2009
Aimed at: Developers who need practical help
Pros: Useful recipes in a range of languages
Cons: Lacks underpinning theory
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
Each recipe starts off with the problem statement and some solutions with an indication of what flavours of regular expression engine they work with. A discussion follows and for most programmers this is going to be the meat of the recipe. The discussions give you a good idea how the regular expressions work and how to modify them. Initially the problems start of fairly low level and general such as how to match any character and work their way up to much more complex matching such as valid URL or ISBN. Occasionally an additional chunk of code is given to go beyond a regular expression - for example computing the checksum on an ISBN number.
Overall the book is useful if you want to either extend your knowledge of regular expression or really do need help with a specific problem. What the book isn't so good at is teaching you the theory that underpins regular expressions and it doesn't give you much of an idea how to go about building your own from scratch or how to test that they work. If what you really want is a cookbook then this is as good as it gets.