Oct 01

Book review: Regular Expressions Cookbook

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[Disclaimer: I’ve received a review copy of this book from O’Reilly]

I’ve been searching for a good regular expression book for some time and I think I’ve finally found one which fits my requirements. Regular Expressions Cookbook is really a great book and you can use it as a reference for quickly picking up one or two regular expressions or as learning guide that can help you understand all the details associated with the way regular expressions work.

The book starts by introducing the topic of regular expressions and explains its “basic blocks” and how you can use them to build the most basic expressions you can think of. From there, it takes a detailed look at some common problems which you’ll be facing in the “real world”.

Being a cookbook, it’s not a surprise to see that the topics are presented in the typical problem/solution fashion. What I must point out though, is that you’ll be finding clear and long explanations about why things work the way they do and you won’t be limited to only one or two variations of regular expressions since the book presents the variations associated with several languages (.NET, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, etc.). Note that rather long is not the same as boring and if you’re only interested in getting info about a specific language, you can always skim the parts which are of no interest to you. Interestingly, and even though I was only interested in getting info about using regular expresions in .NET and JavaScript, I’ve found myself reading the complete explanation section several times (which you can probably think of as a way of measuring the quality of writing that the authors have put into their work!)

Overall, I’m giving this a 9/10 and I really recommend it to those guys which are looking to learn more about regular expressions or that need to buy a good reference book on the topic.