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Nikita Popov's Blog:
The true power of regular expressions
June 15, 2012 @ 08:42:57

Nikita Popov has a new (language agnostic) post to his blog today about one of the most powerful things you can use in your development - something that a lot of developers don't understand the true power of - regular expressions.

As someone who frequents the PHP tag on StackOverflow I pretty often see questions about how to parse some particular aspect of HTML using regular expressions. A common reply to such a question is: "You cannot parse HTML with regular expressions, because HTML isn't regular. Use an XML parser instead." This statement - in the context of the question - is somewhere between very misleading and outright wrong. What I'll try to demonstrate in this article is how powerful modern regular expressions really are.

He starts with the basics, defining the "regular" part of "regular expression" (hint: it has to do with predictability) and the grammar of the expressions. He talks about the Chomsky hierarchy and how it relates to the "regular" as well as a more complex mapping of expression to language rules. He talks about matching context-free and context-sensitive languages and unrestricted grammars as well.

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Sankuru Blog:
A simple bytecode compiler with virtual machine, written in Php, for the EL language
December 30, 2011 @ 11:06:36

On the Sankuru blog there's a recent post looking at the construction of a simple bytecode compiler with a virtual machine as written in PHP (for Expression Language).

In my previous blog posts, I demonstrated how we can use the builtin PCRE library, to create a lexer in Php. I also showed how to use Bison-generated LALR1 parser tables in Php. In this blog post, I will re-use these lexing and parsing facilities to compile EL programs from within Php.

He uses his lexer/parser (available for download) in an example program that outputs some values and does some simple mathematical operations. There's sections detailing the Bison grammar used, execution stacks, callbacks and the bytecode it produces.

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Practicing Regular Expressions with Search and Replace
November 23, 2011 @ 14:27:59

On today there's a new tutorial that shares a few regular expression tips about doing some search and replace in your content.

So how can you practice using regex if you are limited to just using them in your code? The answer is to use a utility, of which there are many, that uses regex for performing search and replace. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the standard "find x and replace it with y" type of search and replace. Most IDEs and text editors have built in regex engines to handle search and replace. In this article I'd like to walk through a series of exercises to help you practice using regex.

His examples are based on Netbeans but can be used in just about any IDE that supports regex (or even just your code). He shows how to match word boundaries, do some grouping, work with back references and doing some search/replace based on multiple groupings.

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Johannes Schmitt's Blog:
A New Killer Feature for Symfony2 Security
October 31, 2011 @ 14:26:08

Johannes Schmitt has a new post about his "killer feature" he's added to the security for Symfony2 framework (as a bundle) - a new customized expression-based query language that's compiled down to native PHP to make permissions checking simpler and faster.

If you have used the Symfony2 Security Component to any modest degree, you will know that we have a quite heavy voting system which uses attributes like "IS_AUTHENTICATED_FULLY" to make authorization decisions. [...] If you are concerned about performance, then you should not be all too generous with the isGranted() calls. The second option would work as well, but writing a new voter each time you need to make a new check does not really seem ideal either. Fortunately, we can do better.

He includes an example of this expression language in a direct isGranted() call, a string that checks to see if a user has three different roles, and a snippet showing the same thing in the docblock comment of a controller method. The second is a bit more complex, checking for an admin role or if the user is the one that should be deleted. You can find more doucmentation here.

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Regular Expressions
September 27, 2011 @ 09:42:28

Regular expressions have always been something that have mystified developers, even those seasoned ones looking to match the most complicated data. If you're just venturing into the world of regex, has a good guide to help you wade through some of the basics.

It makes all the sense of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to you, although those little pictures at least look like they have meaning. But this… this looks like gibberish. What does it mean? [...] When you're looking to go beyond straight text matches, like finding "stud" in "Mustard" (which would fail btw), and you need a way to "explain" what you're looking for because each instance may be different, you've come to need Regular Expressions, affectionately called regex.

The include a (somewhat) complicated example regex string and break it down chunk by chunk - groupings, character sets, multiple matching, delimiters and more (the pattern matches valid email addresses). They show how to use it in PHP with preg_match, preg_replace and preg_match_all for different situations.

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David Stockton's Blog:
Zend JSON - An Introduction
August 24, 2011 @ 08:17:12

David Stockton has a new post to his site today introducing you to an increasingly more handy Zend Framework component that can make your messaging needs easier. The new tutorial introduces you to Zend_Json, a component for generating and parsing JSON messages.

In the past few years, JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation has seemed to overtake XML and other data encoding methods on the web. [...] I've also seen numerous examples of developers who create their own sort of JSON encoder rather than either using json_encode or using Zend_Json. What inevitably comes back to bite them is when the data they are encoding contains a special character like quotes, colons, curly brackets, etc.

He demonstrates how the Zend_Json component helps to alleviate some of the worries with built-in features that handle everything from basic encoding/decoding, printing out results in a "pretty" way and a handy way to include executable Javascript (once it's evaled on the other side) in your payload. He finishes the tutorial off with a mention of a very handy method that will please those already having to work with XML - the fromXML() method that automagically converts the data over to JSON for you.

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Gareth Heyes' Blog:
August 23, 2011 @ 10:21:40

Gareth Heyes has a recent post pointing out the port of a project of his, CSSReg (a filtering tool for user-provided stylesheets) over to PHP.

Just a quick post to mention the excellent work by Norman Hippert aka @thewildcat, he successfully converted my Javascript based CSSReg into PHP. I was meaning to do this but never found the time so it's pretty awesome that not only did thewildcat convert the code but found some nice bugs in my code and fixed them. Great work Norman thanks very much!

You can see a demo of it here and grab the source as a download here. You can find out more about the origins of CSSReg (and some of its siblings) in this other post from Gareth.

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Leonid Mamchenkov's Blog:
PHP regular expression to match English/Latin characters only
August 18, 2011 @ 12:11:44

Leonid Mamchenkov has a quick new post to his blog sharing a regular expression that can be used to check that a string contains only English or Latin characters (no Unicode allowed).

Today at work I came across a task which turned out to be much easier and simpler than I originally thought it would. We have have a site with some user registration forms. The site is translated into a number of languages, but due to the regulatory procedures, we have to force users to input their registration details in English only. Using Latin characters, numbers, and punctuation.

Thankfully the PCRE regular expression engine bundled with PHP makes it simple - it uses a standard regular expression without anything special to accommodate for Unicode characters. He notes that adding the "/u" modifier to the expression makes it "totally malfunction" (where strings are treated as UTF-8). If you'd like an example of some of the tricks that go into supporting Unicode in a regex, see this comment in the PHP manual.

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Zoomzum Blog:
10 Powerful PHP Regular Expression For Developers
July 27, 2011 @ 09:02:10

On the Zoomzum blog there's a new post with ten regular expressions PHP developers can use to accomplish some common tasks (like email validation and date formatting checks).

Regular expression for the PHP developers, on of the most popular tool for validating data is the regular expression. In this list we provides some validation - string match, password match validation, email address validation, date format and many more which helps developer to make their application more fast and easy to execute. [...] Have you note that, regular expressions are more slower than the basic string function, its takes a short time to execute than any others.

Included in their list are things like:

  • Password Match Validation
  • Validate URL
  • Validate URL using Preg_match
  • UK Postcode Validation
  • SSN,ISBN and Zipcode Validation

A few of these could be done with either one or two string calls or some of the filtering functions that are included in PHP.

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Caching, YQL, and Regular Expressions
November 10, 2010 @ 10:07:14

On today there's a new tutorial showing you how to work with YQL for pulling information from remote feeds and PHP (with regular expressions) to handle filtering and caching.

In today's tutorial, we're going to mix a handful of technologies. First, we'll review how to implement a simple form of text file caching with PHP. To illustrate this technique, we'll use the wonderful YQL to query Twitter's search API for a list of tweets which contain the string, "nettuts." Finally, we'll experiment with PHP's regular expression capabilities, and will turn all Twitter usernames and urls into clickable links.

They show you (with the help of a few screenshots) how to get the YQL system to work with your PHP scripts and how you can fun a simple query against it. They use a simple file-based caching technique and a regular expression (not the simplest thing, mind you) to extract usernames and links from the results.

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