Regular Expressions Cookbook by Jan Goyvaerts and Steven Levithan


Summary: Small issues make it difficult for newcomers

When you read the book, you can definitelly tell that authors have experience when it comes to different flavors of the regular expressions. When you go over the different aspects of regular expressions you can track the differences between the standards thanks to clear specification what is allowed and what’s not in particular regular expressions convention. This is quite useful in case you work with different languages like Java, Perl, Python, etc. There are always small differences that can make a headache when all you need is a simple expression. Book starts with nice introduction into tools that will provide you with heavy support when it comes to regular expressions. It’s a shame, though, it doesn’t cover comprehensivelly Linux and Mac OS X. Both systems, comparing to Windows, have much more to do with regular expressions – I think. Linux and Mac OS X are the systems where you have an easy, out of the box, access to CLI and variety of languages. In fact, this part looks a little bit like an advertisement for a products developed by the authors. That’s fine in the sense you should not expect authors to advertise products created by the competition. But still, without this part the whole book would be still complete.

I always strive to get an access to simple, comprehensive, and well explained content related to development. That’s why I pretty much like cookbook style books. This one is such an example. I have found few examples that really cought my attention and were a surprise for me – even though I work with regular expression on day to day basis. However, there are two major issues with the book that may be stoppers for novice developers not familiar with the topic:
– lack of examples for download – if they were available, this would be a great benefit for newcomers. At least some basic examples how to use regular expressions in different languages would highly improve the perception of the content.
– typografic convention used throught the book – in more complex cases it is not possible to copy-paste the regular expressions right into editor. This is due to special characters used in the book to make it easier to read expressions. This can be really painful when you want to check particular recipe.

In my opinion, if you are new to regular expressions, take a look at somethig different. Look out for some sort of introduction to regular expressions instead. On the other hand, if you are working with regular expressions on day to day basis, if you mix various languages during development, this book might be quite handy (even though it is Windows oriented). Great benefit of it is that you get covered eight different standars of regular expressions.

Let me say politically correct – I leave the choice for your consideration.

Product page:

O’Reilly: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920023630.do
Amazon (in Books): Regular Expressions Cookbook
Amazon (Kindle): Regular Expressions Cookbook

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