More Quoting Hell - Regular Expressions 102

regexp ?switches? exp string ?matchVar? ?subMatch1 ... subMatchN?
Searches string for the regular expression exp. If a parameter matchVar is given, then the substring that matches the regular expression is copied to matchVar. If subMatchN variables exist, then the parenthetical parts of the matching string are copied to the subMatch variables, working from left to right.
regsub ?switches? exp string subSpec varName
Searches string for substrings that match the regular expression exp and replaces them with subSpec. The resulting string is copied into varName.

The regular expression (exp) in the two regular expression parsing commands is evaluated by the Tcl parser during the Tcl substitution phase. This can provide a great deal of power, and also requires a great deal of care.

These examples show some of the trickier aspects of regular expression evaluation. The fields in each example are discussed in painful detail in the most verbose level.

The points to remember as you read the examples are:

The phase at which a character has meaning affects how many escapes are necessary to match the character you wish to match. An escape can be either enclosing the phrase in braces, or placing a backslash before the escaped character.

To pass a left bracket to the regular expression parser to evaluate as a range of characters takes 1 escape. To have the regular expression parser match a literal left bracket takes 2 escapes (one to escape the bracket in the Tcl substitution phase, and one to escape the bracket in the regular expression parsing.). If you have the string placed within quotes, then a backslash that you wish passed to the regular expression parser must also be escaped with a backslash.

Note: You can copy the code and run it in tclsh or wish to see the effects.


# Examine an overview of UNIX/Linux disks
set list1 [list \
{/dev/wd0a        17086    10958     5272    68%    /}\
{/dev/wd0f       179824   127798    48428    73%    /news}\
{/dev/wd0h      1249244   967818   218962    82%    /usr}\
{/dev/wd0g        98190    32836    60444    35%    /var}]

foreach line $list1 {
    regexp {[^ ]* *([0-9]+)[^/]*(/[a-z]*)} $line match size mounted;
    puts "$mounted is $size blocks"

# Extracting a hexadecimal value ...
set line {Interrupt Vector?	[32(0x20)]}
regexp "\[^\t]+\t\\\[\[0-9]+\\(0x(\[0-9a-fA-F]+)\\)]" $line match hexval
puts "Hex Default is: 0x$hexval"

# Matching the special characters as if they were ordinary
set str2 "abc^def"
regexp "\[^a-f]*def" $str2 match
puts "using \[^a-f] the match is: $match"

regexp "\[a-f^]*def" $str2 match
puts "using \[a-f^] the match is: $match"

regsub {\^} $str2 " is followed by: " str3
puts "$str2 with the ^ substituted is: \"$str3\""

regsub "(\[a-f]+)\\^(\[a-f]+)" $str2 "\\2 follows \\1" str3
puts "$str2 is converted to \"$str3\""