Thoughtstream | Seminars

Everything You Know About Regexes Is Wrong

For most programmers, regular expressions are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma shrouded in line-noise.

So most sensible programmers either don't use them at all (and are thereby forced to reinvent worse wheels...badly), or else they fall back on an "evolutionary programming" approach: find an existing regex that looks like it might do, then randomly permute its "genome" over and over again until it appears to work.

In this talk we'll go back to basics and discover that regexes mostly aren't what you think they are, mostly don't work the way you were told they did, and mostly shouldn't be created the way everyone tells you to.

More usefully, we'll also talk about what regexes really are, how they actually work, and see how normal programmers can make use of their existing software development skills to construct correct and efficient regexes...without selling their souls or losing their minds.