Regular Expressions Basics


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Repetitions simplify using the same pattern several consecutive times. They also allow for flexible length searches, so you can match 'aaZ' and 'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaZ' with the same pattern.

{ } Ranges

You can use the following syntax for defined ranges:

{n}Repeat the previous symbol exactly n times
{n,}Repeat the previous symbol n or more times
{min,max}Repeat the previous symbol between min and max times, both included

So a{6} is the same as aaaaaa, and [a-z]{1,3} will match any text that has between 1 and 3 consecutive letters.

Note: In repetitions, each symbol match is independent. If [a-z]{1,3} first matches with 'a', on the next letter it can match with anything in the [a-z] range, not only 'a'.

Other Ranges

You can use the following syntax for other types of ranges:

*Repeat the previous symbol 0 or more times
+Repeat the previous symbol 1 or more times
?Repeat the previous symbol 0 or 1 times

Note: * is the same as {0,}, + is the same as {1,}, and ? is the same as {0,1}

A common use for ? is to allow both singular and plural words: cats? will match either cat or cats.

Repetitions are greedy on searches; they try to get the largest match possible. Sometimes that's undesired, so you can force a lazy search by adding ? after * or +. The ? instructs the regex engine to make a lazy search, which gives the smallest match possible.

Greedy Search: a.*a will find Greedy Search Lazy Search: a.*?a will find Lazy Search

Exercise 4 - Simplified XML Tags
namespace RegexCourse{
public static class Exercise4{
//Write a regex pattern to match simplified XML tags.
//Simplified XML tags will be defined as <text> or </text>
//text has size >=1, and can contain these characters:
// -Any letter
// -Any digit
// -These symbols: = \s " - _ :
//Your regex pattern should not match the characters between XML tags.
//I.e: In the XML <text>ZZZZZ</text>, the text ZZZZZ shouldn't be matched.
//Tags starting with <? should NOT match, as ? is not in the set of allowed symbols
//Note: In literal C# strings, the " symbol must be escaped as double ""
// Also, in C# you need to escape / with \/
public static string Pattern_Exercise4=@"";

Note: Regex is not recommended for parsing XML or HTML. See: However it can find what you need for simpler things.

In the next lesson, you'll learn about Alternations.

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