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Keywords: regular expression, Perl, Java, C#, PHP, Python, JavaScript

Title: Regular Expression Pocket Reference

Author: Tony Stubblebine

Publisher: O'Reilly

ISBN: 059600415X

Media: Book

Level: Reference

Verdict: Probably not an essential purchase

This is a handy and concise reference for programming regular expressions in Perl, C# and .NET, PHP, Python, Java, JavaScript and C (in the form of the open source Perl Compatible Regular Expression Library). There is even a section on vi and a short section on awk, egrep and sed. In addition there is an opening section which provides a very brief introduction to the types of regexp engines, to patterns and matching and character representations.

Each section, (i.e. for every language listed above), includes lists of metacharacters, details of operators or classes and interfaces, details of unicode support, some example code (matching, simple and more complex substitutions) and finally a few pointers to other resources. Everything is brief and to the point, this isn't a tutorial or a how-to book. Neither is it a cookbook. The aim is to provide a quick reference and nothing more, which it does.

While it's a useful thing to have around, if you only ever work in one environment, be it Java, Perl or one of the other languages that is covered, there has to be a question mark about the usefulness of such a reference. Chances are that you already know, or have access to a good web page, which covers the information that you need to successfully deliver your code. The book is more useful if you need to switch back and forth between languages, or if you need to refer to different implementations.

More useful, perhaps, would have been some extended examples and some cook-book recipes using the different languages. As it is the book is relatively pricey if you're only interested in one of the languages that it covers.

This is one of those books that if you need it'll be worth it's weight in gold, if not it's a nice to have.

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