Chapter 10. Regular Expressions

10.0. Introduction

The .NET Framework Class Library includes the System.Text.RegularExpressions namespace, which is devoted to creating, executing, and obtaining results from regular expressions executed against a string.

Regular expressions take the form of a pattern that can be matched to zero or more characters within a string. The simplest of these patterns, such as.* (match anything except newline characters) and [A-Za-z] (match any letter) are easy to learn, but more advanced patterns can be difficult to learn and even more difficult to implement correctly. Learning and understanding regular expressions can take considerable time and effort, but the work will pay off.

Regular expression patterns can take a simple form—such as a single word or character—or a much more complex pattern. The more complex patterns can recognize and match such things as the year portion of a date, all of the <SCRIPT> tags in an ASP page, or a phrase in a sentence that varies with each use. The .NET regular expression classes provide a very flexible and powerful way to do such things as recognize text, replace text within a string, and split up text into individual sections based on one or more complex delimiters.

Despite the complexity of regular expression patterns, the regular expression classes in the FCL are easy to use in your applications. Executing a regular expression consists of the following steps:

  1. Create an instance of a Regex object that contains the regular ...

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