Flagrant Badassery

A JavaScript and regular expression centric blog

Win a Free Copy of Regex Cookbook 2nd Edition

Update: This contest is now finished. See the list of winners.

I'm excited to announce the release of Regular Expressions Cookbook 2nd Edition, which I wrote together with regex superguru Jan Goyvaerts. It has actually been available as an ebook for a couple weeks on oreilly.com, but as of now, it is also in stock on amazon.com.

To promote this release, O'Reilly Media is giving away free copies to 15 people who comment on this post on or before September 7th! To get a free copy, you must read the details at the end of this post. But first, some FAQs about the second edition:

Wait…this is a cookbook?

The book tackles hundreds of real-world regular expression tasks in a problem, solution, discussion format. There's also a detailed regular expression tutorial included, in the same format. Check out Jeff Atwood's and Ben Nadel's reviews of the first edition, which have more details about this.

Update: Rob Friesel Jr. posted an awesome, detailed review of the second edition.

The first edition was a bestseller, and is now available in eight languages. It briefly held Amazon's #1 spot for computer books upon its release in mid 2009, and the ebook version was O'Reilly's top seller of 2010.

What has changed with this new edition?

The second edition adds more content, and updates existing chapters. There are innumerable improvements, including the most noticeable addition of a new chapter written by Jan, titled Source Code and Log Files, and various new recipes interspersed with four of the other chapters.

There are 101 new pages in the second edition, and that's after shortening and removing some content from the first edition. There were 125 recipes in the first edition, upped to 146 in the second. Note that many of the book's recipes provide solutions and in-depth discussions for more than one problem. Tons of changes, ranging from minor copyedits and errata corrections to major revisions and the addition of significant new content, were made throughout the existing content. Everything was brought up to date with the latest standards, tools, and programming language versions. In particular, updates to Java and Perl since the first edition brought very significant regular expression changes. Plus, we've covered some advanced regular expression features that already existed the last time around, but didn't make it into the first edition.

The first edition was already groundbreaking for the depth of its explanations and its equal coverage of all regexes in eight programming languages (C#, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and VB.NET). The second edition significantly improves upon this by providing even more details about the many peculiarities and differences of the APIs, syntax, and behavior of these regex flavors and programming languages. The second edition also adds coverage of XRegExp when it provides a better solution than native JavaScript. IMO, the second edition is easily the most comprehensive source of information about the use of modern regexes across multiple programming languages—far more detailed than anything else in print or online.

What will interest long-term fans the most?

Even though there are lots of important changes throughout the book, the new recipes and the updated coverage for the latest programming languages are probably the main reasons for owners of the first edition to upgrade. The fully-new recipes cover creating a regex-based parser, validating password complexity, adding thousands separators to numbers, matching various kinds of numbers, decoding XML entities, and everything in the new Source Code and Log Files chapter. The coverage of XRegExp is also completely new in the second edition.

What will cause readers to trip over themselves in their haste to buy a copy?

If you read though the book, you'll learn about a lot of things—much more than just regular expressions. You'll almost certainly learn something new about Unicode, phone numbers, and XML, as just a few examples. You'll learn that the eighth floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York City has its own ZIP code, which also happens to be the only ZIP code that includes letters. You'll learn that the Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster's Biographical Dictionary disagree on the correct alphabetical listing of the name Charles de Gaulle (my girlfriend and I are in opposing camps). Jan and I put a ton of research into the book, and we pay attention to details. I think that shines through.

Oh yeah, and along the way, you'll also become a Master Chef of regular expressions, able to slice and dice text with the best of them. But not everyone will want to actually read through the book. Some readers will prefer to take advantage of the cookbook format and read only the parts that solve their immediate problems. That's fine, too.

Many developers complain that they're continually relearning regular expressions, going back to the reference documents every time they need to write a new regex. The problem/solution approach of Regular Expressions Cookbook means you learn by doing, and we think that helps the details stick with you more securely than with the other books and websites out there.

Many regex novices turn to Google to get prewritten regexes that solve their problems. Unfortunately, if you're not already fluent in regex, you won't realize that 90% of the regexes out there have some kind of problem, be it returning false positives or negatives, performing inefficiently (or maybe even crashing your server when fed malicious data), being more complicated than necessary, not being portable, or what have you. When you use the regexes in Regular Expressions Cookbook, not only do you get detailed coverage of all the related issues (which helps you customize the solution, if necessary), you also get the peace of mind that you're using proven solutions by real subject-matter experts.

So how do I enter to win a free copy?

Simply comment on this blog post on or before 11:59 PM EDT on September 7th, and you'll be in the running. I wish I could leave the contest open a bit longer, but I'll be moving to California to work for a little Internet startup. You'll need to use your actual first and last name and email address with your comment. Names are published, but email addresses are not. Each person commenting has only one chance to win, regardless of how many comments they post. If you don't know what to write in your comment, just mention whether you'd prefer a print or ebook copy.

Shortly after this contest ends, I'll randomly choose 15 winners and contact them by email. If you prefer a printed copy, I'll be asking for your address and, if you're outside of the U.S., your phone number. O'Reilly will pay for shipping to anywhere in the world. Good luck!

Coauthor Jan Goyvaerts has written up his own summary of the changes in What's New in The Second Edition of Regular Expressions Cookbook.

Follow me on Twitter @slevithan or on GitHub at slevithan.

There Are 375 Responses So Far. »

  1. Count me in! (e-book copy)

  2. I’m so excited about this 2nd Ed. XRegExp was a really great adittion. Kudos!

  3. Nice one! If I’m one of the lucky few, I’d prefer a print copy.

  4. I wouldn’t mind an e-book copy 😉

  5. It would be great to get one copy!

  6. I would like a print version 🙂

  7. Congrats on the move! Maybe we’ll bump into each other at a meetup.

    I look forward to getting my hands on an ebook copy, even if I end up having to purchase it myself. 😉

  8. This sounds like a phenomenal time saver for those not already expert at creating regex. I know I go looking for ready made solutions when I have to get something done. I enjoy figuring them out, but it’s nice to have proven code when you’re adding features to a site.

    I’d be happy to get either the print or e-book versions. The easiest would be the e-book.

  9. Congrats on book. I’m still a tree killer for the books I read

  10. I’d love a copy of this new edition!

  11. Oh this book sounds aweseome.
    So far i learned some basic regexp and this book would be perfect addition.

    Looking forward to hear from you 😀

  12. e-book edition, free the trees 😉

  13. A print edition would be nice 🙂

  14. I have read the 1st Edition and I can’t wait to have my hand around 2nd

  15. Amazing! Hope to be one of the winners.
    I prefer a printed copy please.
    Thanks mate!

  16. Hey, I would like a print version. Thanks!

  17. Count me in (ebook)!! Regex are surely an interesting topic to tackle and a cookbook is a brilliant idea!Definitely appreciated

  18. I would be most interested in an e-book version. (For free would be a bonus :).

  19. Let me try my luck for a ebook copy ;).

  20. A print copy would be great 🙂

  21. Count me in!

  22. I’ve got the first edition, but would love the updates of the second.I’ve got the ebook for the first, so maybe the print book for the second would be good. (I like having both, actually.)

  23. I’d love this as an ebook.

  24. Congrats!

    So, If 23 is my lucky number, send me a print copy 😉

  25. Would just love an ebook copy!

    (will be interesting to see people’s preferences with regard to print or ebook)

  26. I’d love this as an ebook.

  27. Congrats on the 2nd edition, which I’m now craving for.
    If I won copy, I’d like a printed book 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  28. I would love an ebook. Regex are the next thing on my learning tech stuff list.

  29. I would love a copy!

  30. Good going… If 90%+ of regexes on the internet have problems, how do we know yours don’t? 😉

    Would prefer ebook if I win

  31. I would be happy to get printed one! Count me!

  32. I’d love to read the print copy of your book!

  33. Looking forward to a print copy. Thank you!

  34. It’s a great idea. A print copy will be awesome. Thank you.

  35. var me = “Wanna have an ebook”;
    /Wanna have an ebook/.test(me);

  36. I would love a print copy!

  37. Woo! How could I *not* enter a chance to win this book from the regex *masters*. Great job on keepin this book up to date Steven.

  38. Good time of the day!

    I’d like a print book. An ideal variant could be both print and electronic ones – I prefer to read print books, but files are really better for reference and search. Anyway, I will be very glad to get any version of it. And in addition I’m going to buy one in translation to my language when it will be printed.

    Thanks in advance!

  39. Great 😀 Ebook, pretty please 🙂

  40. Hi, I’d love a copy of your book, it sounds fantastic! Anything that can clear up the murky waters of regex would be great. Printed copy please.

    Many thanks,


  41. Uuu, RegEx! I’d love the print copy please.

  42. Hi!
    Print copy could be nice! Thanks for the good work.


  43. The source code and log file seems like a very nice addition. Finally something that will have a great impact in my daily routine.

  44. Print copy.

  45. I would like a printed copy of this book.

  46. Sounds amazing! I’d love a printed copy.

  47. Ebook, yo!

  48. I have the ebook of the previous Verizon and store it my Dropbox. When coding RegEx I’ll often write it myself and then search the Cookbook to see if I missed anything. Email is a perfect example. The authors had done the research and I had better validation for my form.

    I look forward to getting the new ebook edition even if I don’t win it here.

  49. I would love a printed copy!!

  50. I would genuinely appreciate a print copy of this new edition.

  51. I’m thrilled about this new regexp book. It would be nice with a e-book copy.

  52. … Sorry very big fingers make me post twice…
    So I was saying a very good news for the time saving and performant analysis this book will provide, such as have brought me the first edition 🙂
    I look forward to get the new ebook edition even if I’m not selected to win it 😉

  53. I would like a copy.

  54. Great! E-book copy.

  55. Print please! Looks like a great book!

  56. Sounds great! Regex are really useful.
    Print edition, please!

  57. Good job!!
    I would like to get one of those printed copy!

  58. I would love an ebook copy but a print version would be a nice addition to my bookshelf at work

  59. I would love to have a print copy!

  60. Would love an ebook copy of the book.

  61. I “live in” MS Office apps most of every workday (sound familiar to any of you?), it’s the business thing. Anyway, when trying to work smarter, I am often looking in RegEx reference trying to improve search/replace and VBA scripts. I doubt I’m the only person like this, doing most regex like tasks when banging on MS Office Word (aargh). That should get some content allocation as well.

    I prefer ebooks. I use a Kindle, so mobi is good, but I find myself referring to the PDFs on the PC more often.

  62. Cool beans! I’d love an ebook!

  63. @Scott Thorne, O’Reilly provides DRM-free ebooks in PDF, Mobi, and ePub formats, so you can get all three. 🙂

  64. Would like print

  65. Ebook please

  66. Wow, would love to have print version

  67. I’d prefer a printed copy of the book.

  68. I’d love the ebook!

  69. I would love to have a print version.

  70. Great. This is, me think, the only regex book that covers JavaScript. (Now send me da book – any format is fine!)

  71. RegEx has literally changed the way I code and I only know the beginnings of what it can do! I’d love to get either version and get a better knowledge on the subject!

  72. Wow. I could use a copy!

  73. Thanks! I want your book!

  74. Count me in for an e-book – I’ve started to scratch the surface of the potential of RegEx and I’d love to learn more.

  75. It will be interesting to see how the 2nd edition compares. I would prefer a print version

  76. Right in time, the previous print version is wearing out here by using it so much. 😉 Although the little RegEx Buddy Owl is present on my taskbar, ready to help me out again, the book is always within reach too.

  77. Loved the last version. Count me in for e-book please!

  78. I’m looking forward to the 2nd edition of this very useful book… Count me in for the ebook or the hard copy

  79. Hook me up with a physical copy!

  80. Thanks for a free ebook!

  81. Wish I were more of a regex ninja, maybe this book can help out!

  82. I look forward to this chance and hope that I can grab one of these print books.

  83. Wow, an ebook would be great. Thanks.

  84. a ebook for regex – sign me in. Awesome work guys.

  85. Oh my, why wouldn’t I want a good book on this subject! Please count me in.

  86. Excellent initiative! I would love to read the new edition 🙂

  87. How I would love a free copy of “Regex Cookbook 2nd Edition”. I am one of those individuals that prefers to curl up in a quiet corner, study until I have the gist of the chapter in my head, before heading to the computer to put it into practice.

  88. Gotta send something to Saks Fifth Avenue now, just because. Print book.

  89. I’d like a print copy please! 🙂

  90. I would enjoy an e-book version. Thanks!

  91. I’d really like dead-tree copy 😉

  92. I wanted the Free copy too poor to buy it.

    EBook Copy

  93. I would love an ebook copy!

  94. Me too, me too!!!

  95. I needs this

  96. Great news! I’ll wait to know if I’m one of the winners before to buy it as eBook. Thanks for the job!

  97. It would be great to get one copy!

  98. I’d prefer a printed copy of the book. Thank you.

  99. Print Copy… 🙂

  100. Wow!!! I am form INDIA 🙂 This is really great to hear Steven. O’REILLY has been a nice guide for the learners especially.Looking forward the new book releases. Hopefully i would get a chance to win printed version this copy 🙂

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