Logo dévoreur 2 code
Blog

How to Regex in Javascript

Fabien Schlegel

Fabien Schlegel

6 min

published: 3/29/2023

#react#typescript#regex
Cover image for How to Regex in Javascript

In JavaScript, regex is used to manipulate and validate text-based data. Understanding how regex works in JavaScript is essential for any programmer looking to improve their JavaScript skills.

In this article, we will explore the basics of regex in JavaScript, including syntax, methods, and examples.

What are regular expressions?

Regular expressions, as known as regex, are a sequence of characters that forms a search pattern. It is a powerful tool used to search, replace, and extract specific patterns in text.

Regex is widely used in programming, including JavaScript, to validate and manipulate text-based data. The search pattern is defined using a special syntax that follows a specific set of rules.

Regex Syntax in JavaScript

In JavaScript, regex can be created using the RegExp constructor or the literal syntax. The literal syntax uses forward slashes (/) to define the search pattern. Here's an example:

let regex = /pattern/;

In this example, pattern is the search pattern that the regex will match. The RegExp constructor is used to create regex objects that can be used to match patterns in strings.

let regex = new RegExp('pattern');

In this example, pattern is the search pattern passed as a string to the RegExp constructor.

Regex Methods in JavaScript

There are several methods available in JavaScript for working with regex. These methods allow us to match patterns in strings, replace patterns with new strings, and extract specific patterns from strings. Here are some commonly used regex methods in JavaScript:

Test Method

The test() method tests whether a string matches a specific pattern. It returns true if the pattern is found and false if not. Here's an example:

let regex = /cat/;
let str = 'This is a test string.';
let result = regex.test(str); // returns false

In this example, the test() method is used to test whether the string str contains the pattern cat. Since the pattern is not found in the string, the method returns false.

Exec Method

The exec() method is used to match a pattern in a string and return the matched result. It returns an array that contains the matched result and any captured groups. Here's an example:

let regex = /test (\w+)/;
let str = 'This is a test string.';
let result = regex.exec(str); // returns ["test string", "string"]

In this example, the exec() method is used to match the pattern test (\w+) in the string str. The result is an array that contains the matched result and the captured group string.

Match Method

The match() method is used to match a pattern in a string and return an array of all matches. It returns null if no matches are found. Here's an example:

let regex = /test (\w+)/g;
let str = 'This is a test string. Another test string.';
let result = str.match(regex); // returns ["test string", "test string"]

In this example, the match() method is used to match the pattern test (\w+) in the string str. The g flag is used to find all matches in the string. The result is an array that contains all matches of the pattern.

Replace Method

The replace() method is used to replace a pattern in a string with a new string. It returns the modified string. Here's an example:

let regex = /test (\w+)/;
let str = 'This is a test string.';
let newStr = str.replace(regex, 'new'); // returns "This is a new string."

In this example, the replace() method is used to replace the pattern test (\w+) in the string str with the string "new". The result is the modified string "This is a new string.".

Regex Patterns in JavaScript

Regex patterns are defined using a specific syntax that follows a set of rules. Here are some commonly used regex patterns in JavaScript:

Character Classes

Character classes are used to match specific characters in a string. They are defined using square brackets []. Here's an example:

let regex = /[aeiou]/;
let str = 'This is a test string.';
let result = regex.test(str); // returns true

In this example, the character class [aeiou] matches any of the characters a, e, i, o, or u in the string str.

Quantifiers

Quantifiers are used to match a specific number of occurrences of a pattern. They are defined using curly braces {}. Here's an example:

let regex = /\d{3}/;
let str = 'My phone number is 123-456-7890.';
let result = regex.exec(str); // returns ["123"]

In this example, the quantifier {3} matches exactly three occurrences of the pattern \d, which matches any digit in the string str.

Alternation

Alternation is used to match one of several patterns. It is defined using the pipe | character. Here's an example:

let regex = /cat|dog/;
let str = 'I have a cat and a dog.';
let result = regex.exec(str); // returns ["cat"]

In this example, the alternation cat|dog matches either the pattern cat or the pattern dog in the string str.

Anchors

Anchors are characters that match a specific position in a string. For example, the ^ anchor matches the beginning of a string, while the $ anchor matches the end of a string. Here's an example:

let regex = /^This is/;
let str = 'This is a test string.';
let result = regex.test(str); // returns true

In this example, the regex pattern /^This is/ matches the beginning of the string "This is a test string.".

Modifiers and Metacharacters

Regex patterns can include modifiers and metacharacters to provide more flexibility in matching character combinations.

Modifiers are characters that change the behaviour of a pattern. For example, the i modifier makes a pattern case insensitive, so it matches both uppercase and lowercase characters. Here's an example:

let regex = /test/i;
let str = 'This is a Test string.';
let result = regex.test(str); // returns true

In this example, the regex pattern /test/i is tested against the string "This is a Test string.". The test() method returns true because the i modifier makes the pattern case-insensitive, so it matches the uppercase "T" in the string.

Metacharacters are characters that have a special meaning in regex patterns. For example, the . metacharacter matches any character except a newline character. Here's an example:

let regex = /t.st/;
let str = 'This is a test string.';
let result = regex.test(str); // returns true

In this example, the regex pattern /t.st/ matches the character combination "test" in the string "This is a test string.".

Conclusion

As you can see, regular expressions are a powerful tool used to search, validate, and manipulate text-based data in JavaScript.

Understanding how regex works in JavaScript is essential for any programmer looking to improve their JavaScript skills.

By mastering the syntax, methods, and patterns of regex, programmers can build robust and efficient applications that handle complex text-based data.

Related Articles


Cover image of the post

Publish my own blog, the start of a content creator

As a developer, I learn a lot of things. Some of it comes from my colleagues, books or articles I read. The idea of sharing what I know drove me to begin a blog about my journey.

Read the post

4 min
Cover image of the post

How to structure your React app

Without a proper strategy in place, working on a React project can become a daily chore and an overwhelming task.

Logo dévoreur 2 code

© 2022 Fabien Schlegel

TwitterLinkedInGithub