THE BLOG
10/23/2014 07:17 am ET Updated Dec 23, 2014

5 Tools for Learning and Writing Regular Expressions

I remember my first experiences with RegEx, it was when I'd build snippets and small scripts within the Perl programming language.

Even back then, web scraping seemed to be a really big thing (possibly, much bigger than it is now, due to the fact that you could make five figures through affiliate marketing, easily!), and only the greatest of minds would know their way around Regular Expressions.

I think of RegEx as a way of accessing something, that cannot be accessed directly. I'll not throw an example, as there are plenty of examples out there, and I assume you've ended up on this page because you already know what RegEx is, and only want to learn->master the craft.

I'm not aware of any hands-down tutorials for RegEx, but if you know of any, please leave a comment for the community to enjoy and learn from. I'm mostly going to focus on tools/apps that provide a way of generating quick RegEx syntax for a particular problem. With that in mind, they're still great apps to learn from.

txt2re

It's one of the oldest RegEx tools on the web, no doubt. What I love about it, is that it allows you to see preview snippets for a large set of programming languages, when you come to think of it - this is probably the only tool you'd need as a developer looking to master regular expressions, but there are more!

It works in a way where you enter a text, and then select the appropriate elements you'd like to extract from that text input, it's very simple and works for all kinds of inputs, include those of HTML and other similar scripting languages.

Rubular

It's one of those apps that are going to save you time from having to switch between the editor tabs, and instead give you a playground right in the browser. You can enter strings and RegEx itself to learn how-to capture the data you need, there is also a tiny reference at the bottom, making it that much easier.

RegexPal

Built with JavaScript, this is a simple regular expressions tester. Just like the tool above, just with a different design, and few others links. It does seem like it is available for Android devices as well, which is kind of interesting. I suppose the Android app can serve as a great mobile reference on the go.

RegExr

I really like the overall design of this particular tool, and it's also open-source, which means that you can easily bug-report anything that's misleading or incorrect, not that it is. Either way, RegExr has got plenty of references AND examples - which will prove to be of good use to beginner programmers, I've actually used those examples a couple of times myself, less headache for sure.

ReFiddle

I love this, it's also open-source and it has a reasonably sized directory of pre-submitted samples of regular expressions, which are tagged according to the community members. Makes it easier to sometimes find a solution to a painful regular expressions problem. Other than that, lovely design and easy to use tool.

Writing & Learning Regular Expressions

It's not as difficult as it seems at first, yet it can be tricky and full of overlooked things when you begin learning RegEx. I'm usually dedicated to looking deeply for the right answers, and Stack Overflow does come in handy very often, most of the traditional RegEx problems have already been solved there.

I suppose now that more complex languages are entering the market, we will see additional types of syntax that will help us solve bigger problems.

This post first appeared on CodeCondo.