macOS NSString Regular Expressions

From Free Pascal wiki

English (en)

macOSlogo.png

This article applies to macOS only.

See also: Multiplatform Programming Guide


Regular expressions

Regular expressions are patterns used to match specified alpha-numeric character combinations in the string data being searched.

Each character in a regular expression (that is, each character in the string describing its pattern) is either a metacharacter or operator, having a special meaning, or a regular character that has a literal meaning.

Regular expressions can be incredibly complex. Indeed, whole books have been written about them! For a gentle introduction to regular expressions, see this O'Reilly article.

NSString Regular Expression Overview

It is a little known fact that you can use regular expressions to match and replace patterns without having to resort to the more sophisticated, but complicated, NSRegularExpression: NSString has the rangeOfString:options:range: method for matching patterns and the stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:withString: method for replacing patterns. These are demonstrated in the examples below.

Metacharacters

For a comprehensive list of characters used that have a special meaning in regular expression patterns, see the ICU listing.

Operators

For a comprehensive list of regular expression operators, see the ICU listing.

Example 1 - match a pattern

Code

Program regex_ex1;

{$mode objfpc}{$H+}
{$modeswitch objectivec2}

Uses
  MacOSAll, CocoaAll, SysUtils;

Var
  srchStr : String;
  patnStr : String;
  i: NSRange;
  j: NSRange;

Begin
  srchStr := 'I have 43 bags of 60 marbles.';
  patnStr := '\d+';

  // Find first match
  i := NSStr(srchStr).rangeOfString_options_range(NSStr(patnStr), (NSRegularExpressionSearch or NSCaseInsensitiveSearch), NSMakeRange(0, srchStr.Length));

  // Find second match
  j := NSStr(srchStr).rangeOfString_options_range(NSStr(patnStr), (NSRegularExpressionSearch or NSCaseInsensitiveSearch), NSMakeRange(i.location + i.length, srchStr.Length - (i.location + i.length)));

  // Output
  NSLog(NSStr('Search string: %@'), NSStr(srchStr));
  NSLog(NSStr('Pattern string: %@'), NSStr(patnStr));

  NSLog(NSStr('Range 1: %@'), NSStringFromRange(i));
  NSLog(NSStr('Location: %d'), i.location);
  NSLog(NSStr('Length: %d'), i.length);
  NSLog(NSStr('Match: %@'), NSStr(srchStr).substringWithRange(i));

  NSLog(NSStr('Range 2: %@'), NSStringFromRange(j));
  NSLog(NSStr('Location: %d'), j.location);
  NSLog(NSStr('Length: %d'), j.length);
  NSLog(NSStr('Match: %@'), NSStr(srchStr).substringWithRange(j));
End.

Output

2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Search string: I have 43 bags of 60 marbles.
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Pattern string: \d+
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Range 1: {7, 2}
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Location: 7
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Length: 2
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Match: 43
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Range 2: {18, 2}
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Location: 18
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Length: 2
2021-06-15 21:43:49.049 regex_ex1[23182:177970] Match: 60

Example 2 - replace matched pattern

Code

Program regex_ex2;
  
{$mode objfpc}{$H+}
{$modeswitch objectivec2}

Uses
  MacOSAll, CocoaAll, SysUtils;

Var
  srchStr : NSString;
  patnStr : NSString;
  resStr  : NSString;
  i: NSRange;
  j: NSRange;

Begin
  srchStr := NSStr('I have 43 bags of 60 marbles.');
  patnStr := NSStr('\d+');

  // Find first match
  i := srchStr.rangeOfString_options_range(patnStr, NSRegularExpressionSearch, NSMakeRange(0, srchStr.Length));

  // Do first replacement
  resStr := srchStr.stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString_withString(NSStr('43'), NSStr('forty-three'));

  // Find second match
  j := srchStr.rangeOfString_options_range(patnStr, NSRegularExpressionSearch, NSMakeRange(i.location + i.length, srchStr.Length - (i.location + i.length)));

  // Do second replacement
  resStr := resStr.stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString_withString(NSStr('60'), NSStr('sixty'));

  // Output
  NSLog(NSStr('Search string: %@'), srchStr);
  NSLog(NSStr('Pattern string: %@'), patnStr);

  NSLog(NSStr('Range 1: %@'), NSStringFromRange(i));
  NSLog(NSStr('Location: %d'), i.location);
  NSLog(NSStr('Length: %d'), i.length);
  NSLog(NSStr('Match: %@'), srchStr.substringWithRange(i));

  NSLog(NSStr('Range 2: %@'), NSStringFromRange(j));
  NSLog(NSStr('Location: %d'), j.location);
  NSLog(NSStr('Length: %d'), j.length);
  NSLog(NSStr('Match: %@'), srchStr.substringWithRange(j));

  NSLog(NSStr('Result: %@'), resStr);
End.

Output

2021-06-16 11:41:24.025 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Search string: I have 43 bags of 60 marbles.
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Pattern string: \d+
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Range 1: {7, 2}
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Location: 7
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Length: 2
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Match: 43
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Range 2: {18, 2}
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Location: 18
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Length: 2
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Match: 60
2021-06-16 11:41:24.026 regex_ex2[5761:21687] Result: I have forty-three bags of sixty marbles.

See also

External links