One of the strongest concepts of programming and yet one of the least utilized in the broad community of entry- and medium-level programmers are Regular Expressions.
Admitted, RegExp’s direct lineage to automata theory and formal language theory can make it difficult for people without a computer science background and for those that eventually do have such an education, automata theory and formal language theory may very well be some of theme of their CS education which they prefer to forget everything about… seeing that it definitely takes a special kind of person to find this stuff exciting and sexy.
However, Ryan Swanson has nevertheless provided us with a really cool app which makes it fun and easy to work with RegExps’s in Adobe Flex.
The tool is called the Flex 3 Regular Expression Explorer and is as the name signals, in its setup based on the other very cool explorers from Adobe: namely the Flex 3 Style Explorer and the Flex 3 Component Explorer.
If you are hesitating to dive into RegExp’s because it seems incomprehensible and the value insignificant… take my word for it… its neither !
When an ordinary developer navigates to a page such as the Wikipedia entry for RegularExpressions, it can seem to be both… however, I also don’t think that Wikipedia necessarily is the best place to go for descriptions for such items as Regular Expressions (however, let me not discuss that right now, I will keep that for another blogpost).
So, in the case you are a bit intimidated by RegExp’s when you see them, a good start could be the book by Sr. Technical Evangelist from Adobe, Ben Forta. He has written a book for Sam’s Publishing which might be worth reading: Sams Teach Yourself Regular Expressions in 10 Minutes