Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Regular Expressions in CoffeeScript are Awesome

Let's face it, regular expressions aren't for everyone. It takes a special breed of developer to actually enjoy writing regular expressions. Although I enjoy them, the developer that comes after me may find that they are cryptic and hard to read. And yes, sometimes it takes me a little bit to decipher through an old regular expression that I wrote a while ago.

Take for example, the following regular expression. Can you tell what it is doing? If so... then great, but what about the developers you work with?

One of the very cool things I like about CoffeeScript is that you can annotate your regular expressions! The following snippet of CoffeeScript compiles down to the equivalent JavaScript as seen in the above code sample. Yay ;)

Which code sample would you rather maintain? And more importantly which one would your co-worker be more likely to understand?

NOTE: The above email regular expression is very naive in it's logic. I based the above snippet from a Nettuts+ post entitled, 8 Regular Expressions You Should Know. There are much more comprehensive email regular expressions available on the internet, but I used the above one to show the value of annotation.

As a side note, some tools that I find helpful are Grant Skinner's Online RegExr Tool and I sometimes get inspiration for regular expressions at What tools or resources do you use for regular expressions?

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