December 30th, 2009, 12:31 AM
Need help in regular expression: My first post in this forum
need some help in the below regex. I am going through one site for learnign regular expressins. So far it has been going good
but kind of stuck with below example. ( I want to know how regex works on token by token basis)
the site says
Let's take the regex <([A-Z][A-Z0-9]*)[^>]*>.*?</\1> without the word boundary and look inside the regex engine at the point where \1 fails the first time. First, .*? continues to expand until it has reached the end of the string, and </\1> has failed to match each time .*? matched one more character.
Then the regex engine backtracks into the capturing group. [A-Z0-9]* has matched oo, but would just as happily match o or nothing at all. When backtracking, [A-Z0-9]* is forced to give up one character. The regex engine continues, exiting the capturing group a second time. Since [A-Z][A-Z0-9]* has now matched bo, that is what is stored into the capturing group, overwriting boo that was stored before. [^>]* matches the second o in the opening tag. >.*?</ matches >bold<. \1 fails again.
The regex engine does all the same backtracking once more, until [A-Z0-9]* is forced to give up another character, causing it to match nothing, which the star allows. The capturing group now stores just b. [^>]* now matches oo. >.*?</ once again matches >bold<. \1 now succeeds, as does > and an overall match is found. But not the one we wanted.
String is <boo>bold</b> and regex is <(A-Z][A-Z0-9]*)[^>.*?</\1>
I know iam getting it wrong, however acc to my understanding , and the articles i have read on regex so far, i felt the regex should have worked like below......Please correct me
Regex ---Token String
1) < consumes <
2) [A-Z] in round bracket consumes b
3) [A-Z0-9]* in round bracket consumes oo
therefore , first backreference stores boo
4) ^> doesnot match >
Since the above token has star, so it is ok and we proceed to next token of regex. The position of string remains same
5) > consumes > (which is first one in the string)
6) .*? lazy Regex Engine will skip this token as . is lazy
7) < doesnot match b
so engine backtracks to pt 6, and . consumes b. similarly backtracking occurs over and over and . consumes "bold"
8)< consumes < (which is second one)
9)\1 which i think like mentioned in point 3, it must have value boo
boo doesnot match b
10)So engine will backtrack to point 6 and now . will consume "bold<"
11)< doesnot match \b
so enigne backtracks and i guess . will now consume "bold<\b"
but somehow its getting confusing from here ...Could anyone please help...The site mentioned below explains something else....iam unable to get it.....Thanks for your patience in advance
December 30th, 2009, 09:03 AM
The RegExp Power Toy will show you precisely how the steps are laid out.
Read the rest of the "resources" thread at the top of this forum for more.
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