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Re: How to grok a complicated regex?

From: Rasmus
Subject: Re: How to grok a complicated regex?
Date: Sat, 14 Mar 2015 01:12:42 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Marcin Borkowski <> writes:

> On 2015-03-13, at 23:46, Emanuel Berg <> wrote:
>> Marcin Borkowski <> writes:
>>> so I have this monstrosity [note: I know, there are
>>> much worse ones, too!]:
>>> "\\`\\(?:\\\\[([]\\|\\$+\\)?\\(.*?\\)\\(?:\\\\[])]\\|\\$+\\)?\\'"
>>> (it's in the org-latex--script-size function in
>>> ox-latex.el, if you're curious).
>>> I'm not asking “what does this match” – I can read
>>> it myself. But it comes with a considerable effort.
>> I dare say most people (even programmers) cannot read
>> that so if you can that's great.
> Really?  It's not /that/ difficult.  You only need enough coffee (or
> tea, in my case), time and motivation.
> You don’t need a genius, or even IQ higher than, say, 90 or so.

Damn.  At least I know why I don't understand it now...

To grok REs I sometimes prefer visualize regexps¹ over re-builder.  Though
re-builder has the advantage that it can understands \\ out of the box.
You may also find highlight-regexp since it would color the different
parentheses matches.

Here's another project (for your students): adding lookaround to Emacs
regexp /and/ have it merged.  It would be *insanely(!)* at times.



A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it

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