Category Archives: regular expressions

Match Unicode property values with a wildcard

Not all characters with a numerical value are “digits”, in the Perl sense. You saw in Match Unicode characters by property value, in which you selected characters by a Unicode property value. That showed up again in Perl v5.18 adds character class set operations. Perl v5.30 adds a slightly easier way to get at multiple […]

Match Unicode character names with a pattern

Perl has some of the best Unicode support out there, and it keeps getting better. Perl v5.32 supports Unicode 13, and you can now apply patterns to character names. You probably don’t want to do that though. First, the Unicode Character Database catalogs each character, giving it a code number, a name, and many other […]

Use a variable-width lookbehind if it won’t match more than 255 characters

In Ignore part of a substitution’s match, I showed you the match resetting \K—it’s basically a variable-width positive lookbehind assertion. It’s a special feature to work around Perl’s lack of variable-width lookbehinds. However, v5.30 adds an experimental feature to allow a limited version of a variable-width lookbehind.

Perl 5.30 fixes single quoted qr” with \N{}

The qr// operator allows you to compile a regular expression without applying it to anything. You get the pattern without the match, and you can reuse the pattern as often as you like. Before v5.30, it had an inconsistency with \N{} sequences, but that’s fixed now.

Match only the same Unicode script

Earlier this year, this website was the target of some sort of attack in which a bot sent seemingly random data in its requests. The attack wasn’t that big of a deal since I easily blocked it with Cloudflare, but it was interesting. The apparently random data was actually a mix of Latin, Hangul, and […]

Use atomic matching for complex non-backtracking

You can sometimes improve the performance of your regular expression by preventing parts of it from backtracking when you know that might be useful. Item 38. Avoid unnecessary backtracking had many techniques for this, although it did not mention atomic matching (a feature added in v5.005).

Use alpha assertions for more understandable regexes

[This feature stabilizes in Perl v5.32] Perl v5.28 adds more-readable, alternate spelled-out forms for some of its regular expression extended patterns. Then, to make those slightly less readable, there are very short initialisms for those. Although these might seem superfluous now, the ability to define new syntax without relying on the limited number of ASCII […]

Perl v5.30 lets you match more with the general quantifier

Does the {N,} really match infinite repetitions in a Perl regular expression? No, it never has. You’ve been limited to 32,766 repetitions. Perl v5.30 is about to double that for you. And, if you are one of the people who needed more, I’d like to hear your story.

Use @{^CAPTURE} to get a list of all the capture buffers

Perl v5.26 adds three new special variables related to captures. The @{^CAPTURE} is an array of all the capture buffers. %{^CAPTURE} is a alias for %+ and stores the actually-matched named capture labels as its keys. %{^CAPTURE_ALL} is an alias for %- and stores all the named capture labels and their matched (or not) values.

You must escape the left brace in a regex

Update: v5.30 brings this back. The exceptions to allow people to catch up should have already been fixed. In v5.26 and later, you have to escape the left brace, {, in Perl regular expressions. You probably never thought about this overworked character, but lots of other people have. This is an important change because it’s […]