Easily Write and Understand Regular Expressions with Regex101

regex 101

Regular expressions or regexes—custom formulas for complex string pattern matching—are very useful, but also extremely opaque if you’re not used to reading or writing them. Just to show you how deep the nightmare goes, here’s the officially approved PHP regex for evaluating whether a string is a valid email address:

/^(?!(?:(?:\x22?\x5C[\x00-\x7E]\x22?)|(?:\x22?[^\x5C\x22]\x22?)){255,})(?!(?:(?:\x22?\x5C[\x00-\x7E]\x22?)|(?:\x22?[^\x5C\x22]\x22?)){65,}@)(?:(?:[\x21\x23-\x27\x2A\x2B\x2D\x2F-\x39\x3D\x3F\x5E-\x7E]+)|(?:\x22(?:[\x01-\x08\x0B\x0C\x0E-\x1F\x21\x23-\x5B\x5D-\x7F]|(?:\x5C[\x00-\x7F]))*\x22))(?:\.(?:(?:[\x21\x23-\x27\x2A\x2B\x2D\x2F-\x39\x3D\x3F\x5E-\x7E]+)|(?:\x22(?:[\x01-\x08\x0B\x0C\x0E-\x1F\x21\x23-\x5B\x5D-\x7F]|(?:\x5C[\x00-\x7F]))*\x22)))*@(?:(?:(?!.*[^.]{64,})(?:(?:(?:xn--)?[a-z0-9]+(?:-[a-z0-9]+)*\.){1,126}){1,}(?:(?:[a-z][a-z0-9]*)|(?:(?:xn--)[a-z0-9]+))(?:-[a-z0-9]+)*)|(?:\[(?:(?:IPv6:(?:(?:[a-f0-9]{1,4}(?::[a-f0-9]{1,4}){7})|(?:(?!(?:.*[a-f0-9][:\]]){7,})(?:[a-f0-9]{1,4}(?::[a-f0-9]{1,4}){0,5})?::(?:[a-f0-9]{1,4}(?::[a-f0-9]{1,4}){0,5})?)))|(?:(?:IPv6:(?:(?:[a-f0-9]{1,4}(?::[a-f0-9]{1,4}){5}:)|(?:(?!(?:.*[a-f0-9]:){5,})(?:[a-f0-9]{1,4}(?::[a-f0-9]{1,4}){0,3})?::(?:[a-f0-9]{1,4}(?::[a-f0-9]{1,4}){0,3}:)?)))?(?:(?:25[0-5])|(?:2[0-4][0-9])|(?:1[0-9]{2})|(?:[1-9]?[0-9]))(?:\.(?:(?:25[0-5])|(?:2[0-4][0-9])|(?:1[0-9]{2})|(?:[1-9]?[0-9]))){3}))\]))$/iD

If that doesn’t just scream “Email!” to you, you might enjoy Regex101. It’s a free web app that will actually interpret the functioning of simple regexes (the types you’d see in a Stack Overflow post) into human-readable words for you, and will also tell you what you’re writing as you try to write regexes of your own.

Enjoy, and have fun pattern-matching those strings!


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