Regex Guru

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Writing Offline

Filed under: About Regex Guru — Jan Goyvaerts @ 12:56

Late last year I resolved to start writing more. Setting up this blog and two others was a big part of that. Though my blogs have been a little quiet lately, I’ve actually been doing a lot of writing. But offline.

Whenever I set out to do something, opportunities that weren’t there before pop up everywhere. The opportunities aren’t new, but my attention to them is. I set out to do more writing, and suddenly I’m doing all the writing I can.

Two months ago I was asked if I wanted to co-author a book on regular expressions. I was hesitant at first. I’m very busy already, and writing books isn’t a very lucrative way to spend one’s time. But writing a real book sold in real bookstores has been something I’ve wanted to do since I was very young. I took the opportunity, before books go all digital. The book will be published by the same publisher as the best book on regular expressions to date. I’m confident the project is in good hands.

Unfortunately, writing a book, running a software business, and moving 800 km South, does not leave much time for blogging. This blog will likely remain quiet until the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.


  1. Hello Jan,

    You are linking to the “best book on regular expressions to date”. You must be supremely confident that this will become the “second best book on regular expressions to date”.

    I wish you good luck.

    I’ve been using EditPadPro and RegexBuddy for a several years now. They are great tools. And RB has really saved me a LOT of headaches and allowed me to demonstrate to others what the issues with their regex’s are.

    Having a proper book by the author of my 2 favourite tools is something I’m looking to.


    Richard Quadling.

    Comment by Richard Quadling — Tuesday, 27 May 2008 @ 16:32

  2. Can’t wait for the book!

    Comment by Wayne — Tuesday, 27 May 2008 @ 22:03

  3. I did not intend to imply that we’re attempting to dethrone Jeffrey’s work. There’s no reason for O’Reilly to accept a book proposal that would replace one of their own books that’s still current, and very successful. Mastering Regular Expressions is aimed at people who’re already (somewhat) familiar with regular expressions, and want to get to the bottom of things. Our book will aim at people who have no or little experience with regular expressions, and who don’t necessarily want to read about tips for writing your own regular expression engine.

    I expect our book to be the most practical on regular expressions, which will make it the best for a large audience, but not for everybody.

    Comment by Jan Goyvaerts — Wednesday, 28 May 2008 @ 8:09

  4. So, I’m the coauthor Jan mentioned. I have to agree with Jan’s take on this. Jeffey’s book is a classic, and I’d personally recommend it to anyone interested in the regular expressions, including beginners. But I think that says a lot about its competition.

    MRE really shouldn’t be for everyone — there’s just too much information there for most normal people. That’s one of the reasons I loved it — my interest in regexes is not normal. The market has proven that a lot of other people loved it, too, but I think certain people would be better served by a more practical approach *if* it were at the same high quality level. Jan and I hope we can deliver on that front.

    Comment by Steven Levithan — Friday, 30 May 2008 @ 3:08

  5. Hi Steven! I didn’t mention your name because I wanted to leave it up to you when and how to “out” yourself.

    Comment by Jan Goyvaerts — Friday, 30 May 2008 @ 6:53

  6. […] practical, high-quality guide to solving real problems using regular expressions. You can see Jan’s announcement on his […]

    Pingback by Writing a Regex Book — Sunday, 1 June 2008 @ 6:42

  7. Oh, I know! I’ve just gone ahead and done so more officially on my blog.

    Comment by Steven Levithan — Sunday, 1 June 2008 @ 6:53

  8. wait for you book publish, i can image that i would read page by page…

    Comment by johnm — Tuesday, 15 July 2008 @ 10:17

  9. […] Jan Goyvaerts近来在写一本关于正则表达式的书。目前已经脱稿,有望在2009年4月份由O’Reilly出版。作者坦承,该书或许是关于正则式的最实用的著作。 […]

    Pingback by Just Great Software 动态 | 我爱正则表达式 — Monday, 22 December 2008 @ 20:01

  10. I have been trying to follow the regex included in EditPad pro. When an expresson works, it is very satifying, but often I write expresons that look reasonable to me, but either don’t work at all, or do not do what I expect. I hope your new book will let me diagnose my exprssions that do not do what I expect.

    I hope the book has a through index – often I can’t find what I am looking for in the EditPad Pro version, even though I know I have seen it and used it before.

    The two area where I have the most confusion is “or” and “not.”

    Comment by Leo — Wednesday, 24 December 2008 @ 3:16

  11. The best way to diagnose an existing regular expression is to load it into RegexBuddy. The Create tab will explain exactly what you’ve got, the Test tab will show what it matches (or doesn’t), and the Debug tab will show you the whole matching process step by step.

    Our new book is organized to make it as practical as we can. One chapter (written by myself) explains the entire regex syntax, with one section for each element of the regex syntax that you can read in isolation (if you already have some experience with regular expressions).

    The index will be created by O’Reilly’s professional indexers.

    Comment by Jan Goyvaerts — Wednesday, 24 December 2008 @ 7:38

  12. I look forward to reading your book. I’ll probably buy it in one form or anther just out of gratitude. I’m pretty good at RegEx, but your tools make it incredibly easy to fully test a RegEx before committing it to code. I’ve been using PowerGrep for data mining and exploration. I’ve been using RegEx Buddy for 3 years and Power Grep for 2. The on-line help in these tools makes my old O’Reilly book almost obsolete.

    By the way, another take on digital publishing is that it has made books better and less expensive. I have friends that do fine-art typesetting for trade paperbacks. Their books are a real pleasure to look at. The display guru at Sharp estimates that display technology is at least a century away from being as good as a well printed book. On the other hand, looking something up in a well-structured softcopy is far more convenient. I often buy both the print and pdf coy of a book. Just straddling two boats, I guess.

    Comment by Walt — Saturday, 3 January 2009 @ 0:47

  13. […] book that I’ve been writing is now available for pre-order on,, and a whole lot of other places that I […]

    Pingback by Regular Expression Cookbook Available for Pre-Order - Regex Guru — Wednesday, 28 January 2009 @ 7:42

  14. Can’t waite for the book. I have already pre-ordered. Thanks for all the fantastic software.

    Comment by Jim Senack — Tuesday, 31 March 2009 @ 23:40

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