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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Find UUIDs with Regex Visual Studio

Visual Studio supports regular expressions in its search tool, but probably not as you know them. Regular expressions are one of those things that seem to be done slightly differently everywhere, whether it's in the number of features supported or the syntax for using those features, but most flavours are similar enough that you can quickly work out how to get what you want. Not so for Visual Studio ( or not for me at least ) - see the documentation here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/2k3te2cs(v=vs.100).aspx.

This is not meant to be a full run through the syntax and features - the docs give you that - this is just meant to illustrate one of the key differences; how quantifiers are denoted ( and also as a reminder to me next time I'm shouting at Visual Studio for not finding the thing I know damn well is there ).

Normally to find all UUIDs I'd use a pattern like


[0-9a-fA-F]{8}-[0-9a-fA-F]{4}-[0-9a-fA-F]{4}-[0-9a-fA-F]{4}-[0-9a-fA-F]{12}


but in Visual Studio quantifiers are expressed differently and you need something like


[0-9a-fA-F]^8-[0-9a-fA-F]^4-[0-9a-fA-F]^4-[0-9a-fA-F]^4-[0-9a-fA-F]^12


which is fine once you know about it.

As well as using different symbols for other quantifier constructs ( @ instead of *, # instead of + ) there doesn't seem to be support for an optional expression ( normally ? ) or range quantifiers ( {m,n} ).

Oh and don't forget :b to match whitespace!?!!!

Ho hum, there it is.

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