AutoHotkey webinar on Regular Expressions- Learn some great RegEx Tips!

This AHK Webinar focused on Regular Expressions.

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AutoHotkey webinar

Video of Hour One

Video of Hour two

Content from AutoHotkey Webinar

What are Regular Expressions?

  • “Symbols that describe a text pattern”
  • Pattern matching- Chances are extremely high that you’re familiar with this.
    • Using * or ? when looking for a file in Windows Explorer
    • Validate format ( email, phone number, zip code, two-letter state abbreviation)
    • Search & replace text in files
    • Count # of times pattern exists
    • Find duplicate words

When to use RegEx vs. other functions like StrReplace(), InStr()

  • When Haystack is smaller- probably doesn’t matter
  • StrReplace() and InStr() are faster than RegEx but simpler

General rule-of-thumb:  Use RegEx when your pattern is more complex

RegExMatch vs. RegEx Replace

There is definitely overlap between the two tools however here is a high-level view of their “niche” areas & important their differences:

RegExMatch()

  • Tool for finding, saving & extracting specific matches
  • Once your match is found, RegExMatch has done it’s job and stops processing. To continue you need to restart beginning where your last match was found
  • Does NOT affect original data
  • Returns found position
  • O) Match pattern can be returned as an object/pseudo array for easy access

RegExReplace()

  • Modification tool allows you to change (re-order/structure, swap out) your data
  • Does not stop after finding first match. Unless otherwise stipulated it proceeds through the entire haystack
  • Returns Newstring:= (altered) string

Common / Helpful RegEx Options

  • m) Multiline (treats each line as separate text)
  • U) Ungreedy (stops at first match)
  • x) Ignore whitespace (great for multiline RegEx)
  • C) Auto-callout mode (help show where you are in your Expression)
  • O) (in RegExMatch) returns match in object

Quantifiers

  • * 0 or more times
  • ? 0 or 1 times
  • + 1 or more times
  • {N} exactly N times
  • {N,} N or more times
  • {N,M} N through M times

Characters Needing Escape

  • \ . * ? + [ { | ( ) ^ $”

Ranges

  • [1-5], [a-e]

Special Characters

  • ^ Start of Line
  • $ End of Line
  • . Any character

Escapes

  • \d  Digit              \D   Non-digit
  • \s Whitespace    \S    Non-whitespace
  • \w “Word“          \W Non-“Word”
  • \n  New Line       \t  Tab
  • \r  Line Return   \b  Boundary
  • \QLiteral\E
  • \x  where x is Hex  \x22=“

Regular Expression Resources

AutoHotkey Help

Tools Built in AutoHotkey

Websites to test dynamic code

Additional Resources

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RegEx 111) Ignore Whitespace in AutoHotkey Regular Expression

Ignore Whitespace in AutoHotkey Regular ExpressionLong Regular Expressions can be very difficult to read and revise when you come back to it later.  Using the X) option allows you to Ignore Whitespace in AutoHotkey Regular Expression and insert comments as well as spread out your RegEx over multiple lines.

Below is the example code I use to ignore the whitespace in AutoHotkey RegEx which is demonstrated in the video below.  It is a great way to make your code easier to read & maintain.  It may take a few months until you revisit your RegEx but, when you do, you’ll thank me for it!

Ignore Whitespace in AutoHotkey Regular Expression

RegEx 110- Use Option X) to ignore whitespace and have your RegEx cover multiple lines

RegEx 110- Example using AutoHotkey Regular Expression on naming convention

AutoHotkey Regular Expression on naming conventionI’ve found the best way to learn RegEx is to actually play with it.  For that reason I’m making a few videos that will demonstrate actual use-cases.  In this example I demonstrate applying an AutoHotkey Regular Expression on naming convention.  As I show in this video, there are a ton of different ways you can write a Regular Expression that will capture what you need.  There isn’t a “right” & “wrong” way, just make sure what you use is reliable and makes sense to you.

Video demonstrating AutoHotkey Regular Expression on naming convention

RegEx 110- Example 1-Regular Expression on naming convention

RegEx 108-Return your match in AutoHotkey Regular Expressions match object

AutoHotkey Regular Expressions match objectNeed to get additional information about your RegExMatch?  Why not return a AutoHotkey Regular Expressions match object?  Having your data returned in an object allows for some great information like: Length, location, name of subpattern, etc.  With AHK  you can use the O) option to store the matches into an AutoHotkey object.  The below video walks through how to do it and gives you a clear example how to access it once it is created.

Create and access an AutoHotkey Regular Expressions match object

RegEx 108- Dumping your Regular Expression match into an AutoHotkey Object

Here is the code demonstrated in the video