class Regex

Overview

A Regex represents a regular expression, a pattern that describes the contents of strings. A Regex can determine whether or not a string matches its description, and extract the parts of the string that match.

A Regex can be created using the literal syntax, in which it is delimited by forward slashes (/):

/hay/ =~ "haystack"   # => 0
/y/.match("haystack") # => #<Regex::MatchData "y">

Interpolation works in regular expression literals just as it does in string literals. Be aware that using this feature will cause an exception to be raised at runtime, if the resulting string would not be a valid regular expression.

x = "a"
/#{x}/.match("asdf") # => #<Regex::MatchData "a">
x = "("
/#{x}/ # => ArgumentError

When we check to see if a particular regular expression describes a string, we can say that we are performing a match or matching one against the other. If we find that a regular expression does describe a string, we say that it matches, and we can refer to a part of the string that was described as a match.

Here "haystack" does not contain the pattern /needle/, so it doesn't match:

/needle/.match("haystack") # => nil

Here "haystack" contains the pattern /hay/, so it matches:

/hay/.match("haystack") # => #<Regex::MatchData "hay">

Regex methods that perform a match usually return a truthy value if there was a match and nil if there was no match. After performing a match, the special variable $~ will be an instance of Regex::MatchData if it matched, nil otherwise.

When matching a regular expression using #=~ (either String#=~ or Regex#=~), the returned value will be the index of the first match in the string if the expression matched, nil otherwise.

/stack/ =~ "haystack"  # => 3
"haystack" =~ /stack/  # => 3
$~                     # => #<Regex::MatchData "stack">
/needle/ =~ "haystack" # => nil
"haystack" =~ /needle/ # => nil
$~                     # => nil

When matching a regular expression using #match (either String#match or Regex#match), the returned value will be a Regex::MatchData if the expression matched, nil otherwise.

/hay/.match("haystack")    # => #<Regex::MatchData "hay">
"haystack".match(/hay/)    # => #<Regex::MatchData "hay">
$~                         # => #<Regex::MatchData "hay">
/needle/.match("haystack") # => nil
"haystack".match(/needle/) # => nil
$~                         # => nil

Regular expressions have their own language for describing strings.

Many programming languages and tools implement their own regular expression language, but Crystal uses PCRE, a popular C library for providing regular expressions. Here give a brief summary of the most basic features of regular expressions - grouping, repetition, and alternation - but the feature set of PCRE extends far beyond these, and we don't attempt to describe it in full here. For more information, refer to the PCRE documentation, especially the full pattern syntax or syntax quick reference.

The regular expression language can be used to match much more than just the static substrings in the above examples. Certain characters, called metacharacters, are given special treatment in regular expressions, and can be used to describe more complex patterns. To match metacharacters literally in a regular expression, they must be escaped by being preceded with a backslash (\). .escape will do this automatically for a given String.

A group of characters (often called a capture group or subpattern) can be identified by enclosing it in parentheses (()). The contents of each capture group can be extracted on a successful match:

/a(sd)f/.match("_asdf_")                          # => #<Regex::MatchData "asdf" 1:"sd">
/a(sd)f/.match("_asdf_") { |md| md[1] }           # => "sd"
/a(?<grp>sd)f/.match("_asdf_")                    # => #<Regex::MatchData "asdf" grp:"sd">
/a(?<grp>sd)f/.match("_asdf_") { |md| md["grp"] } # => "sd"

Capture groups are indexed starting from 1. Methods that accept a capture group index will usually also accept 0 to refer to the full match. Capture groups can also be given names, using the (?<name>...) syntax, as in the previous example.

A character or group can be repeated or made optional using an asterisk (* - zero or more), a plus sign (#+ - one or more), integer bounds in curly braces ({n,m}) (at least n, no more than m), or a question mark (?) (zero or one).

/fo*/.match("_f_")         # => #<Regex::MatchData "f">
/fo+/.match("_f_")         # => nil
/fo*/.match("_foo_")       # => #<Regex::MatchData "foo">
/fo{3,}/.match("_foo_")    # => nil
/fo{1,3}/.match("_foo_")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "foo">
/fo*/.match("_foo_")       # => #<Regex::MatchData "foo">
/fo*/.match("_foooooooo_") # => #<Regex::MatchData "foooooooo">
/fo{,3}/.match("_foooo_")  # => nil
/f(op)*/.match("fopopo")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "fopop" 1: "op">
/foo?bar/.match("foobar")  # => #<Regex::MatchData "foobar">
/foo?bar/.match("fobar")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "fobar">

Alternatives can be separated using a vertical bar (|). Any single character can be represented by dot (.). When matching only one character, specific alternatives can be expressed as a character class, enclosed in square brackets ([]):

/foo|bar/.match("foo")     # => #<Regex::MatchData "foo">
/foo|bar/.match("bar")     # => #<Regex::MatchData "bar">
/_(x|y)_/.match("_x_")     # => #<Regex::MatchData "_x_" 1: "x">
/_(x|y)_/.match("_y_")     # => #<Regex::MatchData "_y_" 1: "y">
/_(x|y)_/.match("_(x|y)_") # => nil
/_(x|y)_/.match("_(x|y)_") # => nil
/_._/.match("_x_")         # => #<Regex::MatchData "_x_">
/_[xyz]_/.match("_x_")     # => #<Regex::MatchData "_x_">
/_[a-z]_/.match("_x_")     # => #<Regex::MatchData "_x_">
/_[^a-z]_/.match("_x_")    # => nil
/_[^a-wy-z]_/.match("_x_") # => #<Regex::MatchData "_x_">

Regular expressions can be defined with these 3 optional flags:

/asdf/ =~ "ASDF"         # => nil
/asdf/i =~ "ASDF"        # => 0
/asdf\nz/i =~ "ASDF\nZ"  # => nil
/asdf\nz/im =~ "ASDF\nZ" # => 0

PCRE supports other encodings, but Crystal strings are UTF-8 only, so Crystal regular expressions are also UTF-8 only (by default).

PCRE optionally permits named capture groups (named subpatterns) to not be unique. Crystal exposes the name table of a Regex as a Hash of String => Int32, and therefore requires named capture groups to have unique names within a single Regex.

Defined in:

regex/match_data.cr
regex/regex.cr

Class Method Summary

Instance Method Summary

Instance methods inherited from class Reference

! !, ==(other)
==(other : self)
==
, hash hash, inspect(io : IO) : Nil inspect, nil? nil?, object_id object_id, same?(other : Nil)
same?(other : Reference)
same?
, to_s(io : IO) : Nil to_s

Instance methods inherited from class Object

! !, !=(other) !=, !~(other) !~, ==(other) ==, ===(other) ===, =~(other) =~, class class, clone clone, crystal_type_id crystal_type_id, dup dup, hash hash, inspect
inspect(io : IO)
inspect
, itself itself, not_nil! not_nil!, tap(&block) tap, to_json to_json, to_pretty_json(io : IO)
to_pretty_json
to_pretty_json
, to_s
to_s(io : IO)
to_s
, to_yaml(io : IO)
to_yaml
to_yaml
, try(&block) try

Class methods inherited from class Object

==(other : Class) ==, ===(other) ===, cast(other) : self cast, from_json(string_or_io) from_json, from_yaml(string : String) from_yaml, hash hash, inspect(io) inspect, name : String name, to_s(io) to_s

Class Method Detail

def self.error?(source) #

Determines Regex's source validity. If it is, nil is returned. If it's not, a String containing the error message is returned.

Regex.error?("(foo|bar)") # => nil
Regex.error?("(foo|bar")  # => "missing ) at 8"

[View source]
def self.escape(str) #

Returns a String constructed by escaping any metacharacters in str.

string = Regex.escape("\*?{}.") # => "\\*\\?\\{\\}\\."
/#{string}/                     # => /\*\?\{\}\./

[View source]
def self.union(*patterns : Regex | String) #

Union. Returns a Regex that matches any of patterns. If any pattern contains a named capture group using the same name as a named capture group in any other pattern, an ArgumentError will be raised at runtime. All capture groups in the patterns after the first one will have their indexes offset.

re = Regex.union(/skiing/i, "sledding")
re.match("Skiing")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "Skiing">
re.match("sledding") # => #<Regex::MatchData "sledding">

[View source]
def self.union(patterns : Enumerable(Regex | String)) #

Union. Returns a Regex that matches any of patterns. If any pattern contains a named capture group using the same name as a named capture group in any other pattern, an ArgumentError will be raised at runtime. All capture groups in the patterns after the first one will have their indexes offset.

re = Regex.union([/skiing/i, "sledding"])
re.match("Skiing")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "Skiing">
re.match("sledding") # => #<Regex::MatchData "sledding">
re = Regex.union({/skiing/i, "sledding"})
re.match("Skiing")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "Skiing">
re.match("sledding") # => #<Regex::MatchData "sledding">

[View source]
def self.new(source, options = Options::None : Options) #

Creates a new Regex out of the given source String.

Regexp.new("^a-z+:\s+\w+")                     # => /^a-z+:\s+\w+/
Regexp.new("cat", Regex::Options::IGNORE_CASE) # => /cat/i
options = Regex::Options::IGNORE_CASE | Regex::Options::EXTENDED
Regexp.new("dog", options) # => /dog/ix

[View source]

Instance Method Detail

def +(other) #

Union. Returns a Regex that matches either of the operands. If either operand contains a named capture groups using the same name as a named capture group in the other operand, an ArgumentError will be raised at runtime. All capture groups in the second operand will have their indexes offset.

re = /skiing/i + /sledding/
re.match("Skiing")   # => #<Regex::MatchData "Skiing">
re.match("sledding") # => #<Regex::MatchData "sledding">

[View source]
def ==(other : Regex) #

Equality. Two regexes are equal if their sources and options are the same.

/abc/ == /abc/i  # => false
/abc/i == /ABC/i # => false
/abc/i == /abc/i # => true

[View source]
def ===(other : String) #

Case equality. This is equivalent to #match or #=~ but only returns true or false. Used in case expressions. The special variable $~ will contain a Regex::MatchData if there was a match, nil otherwise.

a = "HELLO"
b = case a
    when /^[a-z]*$/
      "Lower case"
    when /^[A-Z]*$/
      "Upper case"
    else
      "Mixed case"
    end
b # => "Upper case"

[View source]
def =~(other : String) #

Match. Matches a regular expression against other and returns the starting position of the match if other is a matching String, otherwise nil. $~ will contain a Regex::MatchData if there was a match, nil otherwise.

/at/ =~ "input data" # => 7
/ax/ =~ "input data" # => nil

[View source]
def =~(other) #

Match. When the argument is not a String, always returns nil.

/at/ =~ "input data" # => 7
/ax/ =~ "input data" # => nil

[View source]
def inspect(io : IO) #

Convert to String in literal format. Returns the source as a String in Regex literat format, delimited in forward slashes (/), with any optional flags included.

/ab+c/ix.inspect # => "/ab+c/ix"

[View source]
def match(str, pos = 0, options = Regex::Options::None) #

Match at character index. Matches a regular expression against String str. Starts at the character index given by pos if given, otherwise at the start of str. Returns a Regex::MatchData if str matched, otherwise nil. $~ will contain the same value that was returned.

/(.)(.)(.)/.match("abc").not_nil![2]   # => "b"
/(.)(.)/.match("abc", 1).not_nil![2]   # => "c"
/(.)(.)/.match("クリスタル", 3).not_nil![2] # => "ル"

[View source]
def match_at_byte_index(str, byte_index = 0, options = Regex::Options::None) #

Match at byte index. Matches a regular expression against String str. Starts at the byte index given by pos if given, otherwise at the start of str. Returns a Regex::MatchData if str matched, otherwise nil. $~ will contain the same value that was returned.

/(.)(.)(.)/.match_at_byte_index("abc").not_nil![2]   # => "b"
/(.)(.)/.match_at_byte_index("abc", 1).not_nil![2]   # => "c"
/(.)(.)/.match_at_byte_index("クリスタル", 3).not_nil![2] # => "ス"

[View source]
def name_table #

Returns a Hash where the values are the names of capture groups and the keys are their indexes. Non-named capture groups will not have entries in the Hash. Capture groups are indexed starting from 1.

/(.)/.name_table                         # => {}
/(?<foo>.)/.name_table                   # => {1 => "foo"}
/(?<foo>.)(?<bar>.)/.name_table          # => {2 => "bar", 1 => "foo"}
/(.)(?<foo>.)(.)(?<bar>.)(.)/.name_table # => {4 => "bar", 2 => "foo"}

[View source]
def options #

Return a Regex::Options representing the optional flags applied to this Regex.

/ab+c/ix.options # => IGNORE_CASE, EXTENDED

[View source]
def source #

Return the original String representation of the Regex pattern.

/ab+c/x.source # => "ab+c"

[View source]
def to_s(io : IO) #

Convert to String in subpattern format. Produces a String which can be embedded in another Regex via interpolation, where it will be interpreted as a non-capturing subexpression in another regular expression.

re = /A*/i                 # => /A*/i
re.to_s                    # => "(?i-msx:A*)"
"Crystal".match(/t#{re}l/) # => #<Regex::MatchData "tal">
re = /A*/                  # => "(?-imsx:A*)"
"Crystal".match(/t#{re}l/) # => nil

[View source]