Learn regular expressions with The Regulator

screenshot of The Regulator

Regular expressions are a way to identify specified strings of text. While simple in concept, they can be complicated in execution, and learning how to use them correctly is not a trivial undertaking.

If you've ever done a file search, running a directory listing looking for "*.exe", then you have an idea of what we're looking at here. In this case, we're looking for "zero or more characters followed by a period followed by the letters E-X-E". Regular expressions do this one better, since you can specify strings and substrings to match for in your search, including letters, digits, non-alphanumeric characters, whitespace, and more in almost limitless combination.

Learning to think in regexp is a challenge. The Regular is a free regular expression testing and learning tool. You can enter text, or point to a file or web page, enter your regular expression, and see your results. To help you see what you're really asking, it displays results as a hierarchical tree, making it easy to visualize the logic behind your query, so that you can understand how your expression got you the result you were looking for—or see why you may still need to tweak it a bit.

The Regulator is a Windows application. You need to be running Win2k or better, with ver. 2.0 of the .NET Framework installed.

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