CL-PPCRE - Portable Perl-compatible regular expressions for Common Lisp


 

Abstract

CL-PPCRE is a portable regular expression library for Common Lisp which has the following features: CL-PPCRE has been used successfully in various applications like BioBike, clutu, LoGS, CafeSpot, Eboy, or The Regex Coach.

Download shortcut: http://weitz.de/files/cl-ppcre.tar.gz.


 

Contents

  1. Download and installation
  2. Support and mailing lists
  3. The CL-PPCRE dictionary
    1. create-scanner (for Perl regex strings)
    2. create-scanner (for parse trees)
    3. parse-tree-synonym
    4. define-parse-tree-synonym
    5. scan
    6. scan-to-strings
    7. register-groups-bind
    8. do-scans
    9. do-matches
    10. do-matches-as-strings
    11. do-register-groups
    12. all-matches
    13. all-matches-as-strings
    14. split
    15. regex-replace
    16. regex-replace-all
    17. regex-apropos
    18. regex-apropos-list
    19. *regex-char-code-limit*
    20. *use-bmh-matchers*
    21. *allow-quoting*
    22. *allow-named-registers*
    23. quote-meta-chars
    24. ppcre-error
    25. ppcre-invocation-error
    26. ppcre-syntax-error
    27. ppcre-syntax-error-string
    28. ppcre-syntax-error-pos
  4. Filters
  5. Testing CL-PPCRE
  6. Compatibility with Perl
    1. Empty strings instead of undef in $1, $2, etc.
    2. Strange scoping of embedded modifiers
    3. Inconsistent capturing of $1, $2, etc.
    4. Captured groups not available outside of look-aheads and look-behinds
    5. Alternations don't always work from left to right
    6. "\r" doesn't work with MCL
    7. What about "\w"?
  7. Performance
    1. Benchmarking
    2. Other performance issues
  8. Bugs and problems
    1. Stack overflow
    2. "\Q" doesn't work, or does it?
    3. Backslashes may confuse you...
  9. Remarks
  10. AllegroCL compatibility mode
  11. Acknowledgements

 

Download and installation

CL-PPCRE together with this documentation can be downloaded from http://weitz.de/files/cl-ppcre.tar.gz. The current version is 1.3.2.

If you're on Debian, you should probably use the cl-ppcre Debian package which is available thanks to Peter van Eynde and Kevin Rosenberg. There's also a port for Gentoo Linux thanks to Matthew Kennedy and a FreeBSD port thanks to Henrik Motakef. Installation via asdf-install should as well be possible.

CL-PPCRE comes with simple system definitions for MK:DEFSYSTEM and asdf so you can either adapt it to your needs or just unpack the archive and from within the CL-PPCRE directory start your Lisp image and evaluate the form (mk:compile-system "cl-ppcre") (or the equivalent one for asdf) which should compile and load the whole system.

If for some reason you don't want to use MK:DEFSYSTEM or asdf, you can just LOAD the file load.lisp or you can also get away with something like this:

(loop for name in '("packages" "specials" "util" "errors" "lexer"
                    "parser" "regex-class" "convert" "optimize"
                    "closures" "repetition-closures" "scanner" "api")
      do (compile-file (make-pathname :name name
                                      :type "lisp"))
         (load name))
Note that on CL implementations which use the Python compiler (i.e. CMUCL, SBCL, SCL) you can concatenate the compiled object files to create one single object file which you can load afterwards:
cat {packages,specials,util,errors,lexer,parser,regex-class,convert,optimize,closures,repetition-closures,scanner,api}.x86f > cl-ppcre.x86f
(Replace ".x86f" with the correct suffix for your platform.)

Note that there is no public CVS repository for CL-PPCRE - the repository at common-lisp.net is out of date and not in sync with the (current) version distributed from weitz.de.

Luís Oliveira maintains a darcs repository of CL-PPCRE at http://common-lisp.net/~loliveira/ediware/.
 

Support and mailing lists

For questions, bug reports, feature requests, improvements, or patches please use the cl-ppcre-devel mailing list. If you want to be notified about future releases, subscribe to the cl-ppcre-announce mailing list. These mailing lists were made available thanks to the services of common-lisp.net. Terrence Brannon has created a Google group for the list which is at http://groups.google.com/group/cl-ppcre.

If you want to send patches, please read this first.
 

The CL-PPCRE dictionary

CL-PPCRE exports the following symbols:


[Method]
create-scanner (string string)&key case-insensitive-mode multi-line-mode single-line-mode extended-mode destructive => scanner, register-names


Accepts a string which is a regular expression in Perl syntax and returns a closure which will scan strings for this regular expression. The second value is only returned if *ALLOW-NAMED-REGISTERS* is true. It represents a list of strings mapping registers to their respective names - the first element stands for first register, the second element for second register, etc. You have to store this value if you want to map a register number to its name later as scanner doesn't capture any information about register names. If a register isn't named, it has NIL as its name.

The mode keyword arguments are equivalent to the "imsx" modifiers in Perl. The destructive keyword will be ignored.

The function accepts most of the regex syntax of Perl 5 as described in man perlre including extended features like non-greedy repetitions, positive and negative look-ahead and look-behind assertions, "standalone" subexpressions, and conditional subpatterns. The following Perl features are (currently) not supported:

Note, however, that \t, \n, \r, \f, \a, \e, \033 (octal character codes), \x1B (hexadecimal character codes), \c[ (control characters), \w, \W, \s, \S, \d, \D, \b, \B, \A, \Z, and \z are supported.

Since version 0.6.0 CL-PPCRE also supports Perl's \Q and \E - see *ALLOW-QUOTING* below. Make sure you also read the relevant section in "Bugs and problems."

Since version 1.3.0 CL-PPCRE offers support for AllegroCL's (?<name>"<regex>") named registers and \k<name> back-references syntax, have a look at *ALLOW-NAMED-REGISTERS* for details.

The keyword arguments are just for your convenience. You can always use embedded modifiers like "(?i-s)" instead.


[Method]
create-scanner (function function)&key case-insensitive-mode multi-line-mode single-line-mode extended-mode destructive => scanner


In this case function should be a scanner returned by another invocation of CREATE-SCANNER. It will be returned as is.


[Method]
create-scanner (parse-tree t)&key case-insensitive-mode multi-line-mode single-line-mode extended-mode destructive => scanner, register-names


This is similar to CREATE-SCANNER for regex strings above but accepts a parse tree as its first argument. A parse tree is an S-expression conforming to the following syntax: Because CREATE-SCANNER is defined as a generic function which dispatches on its first argument there's a certain ambiguity: Although strings are valid parse trees they will be interpreted as Perl regex strings when given to CREATE-SCANNER. To circumvent this you can always use the equivalent parse tree (:GROUP <string>) instead.

Note that CREATE-SCANNER doesn't always check for the well-formedness of its first argument, i.e. you are expected to provide correct parse trees.

The usage of the keyword argument extended-mode obviously doesn't make sense if CREATE-SCANNER is applied to parse trees and will signal an error.

If destructive is not NIL (the default is NIL), the function is allowed to destructively modify parse-tree while creating the scanner.

If you want to find out how parse trees are related to Perl regex strings, you should play around with CL-PPCRE::PARSE-STRING - a function which converts Perl regex strings to parse trees. Here are some examples:

* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "(ab)*")
(:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL (:REGISTER "ab"))

* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "(a(b))")
(:REGISTER (:SEQUENCE #\a (:REGISTER #\b)))

* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "(?:abc){3,5}")
(:GREEDY-REPETITION 3 5 (:GROUP "abc"))
;; (:GREEDY-REPETITION 3 5 "abc") would also be OK

* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "a(?i)b(?-i)c")
(:SEQUENCE #\a
 (:SEQUENCE (:FLAGS :CASE-INSENSITIVE-P)
  (:SEQUENCE #\b (:SEQUENCE (:FLAGS :CASE-SENSITIVE-P) #\c))))
;; same as (:SEQUENCE #\a :CASE-INSENSITIVE-P #\b :CASE-SENSITIVE-P #\c)

* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "(?=a)b")
(:SEQUENCE (:POSITIVE-LOOKAHEAD #\a) #\b)


[Accessor]
parse-tree-synonym symbol => parse-tree
(setf (parse-tree-synonym symbol) new-parse-tree)


Any symbol (unless it's a keyword with a special meaning in parse trees) can be made a "synonym", i.e. an abbreviation, for another parse tree by this accessor. PARSE-TREE-SYNONYM returns NIL if symbol isn't a synonym yet.

Here's an example:

* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "a*b+")
(:SEQUENCE (:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL #\a) (:GREEDY-REPETITION 1 NIL #\b))

* (defun my-repetition (char min)
    `(:greedy-repetition ,min nil ,char))
MY-REPETITION

* (setf (parse-tree-synonym 'a*) (my-repetition #\a 0))
(:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL #\a)

* (setf (parse-tree-synonym 'b+) (my-repetition #\b 1))
(:GREEDY-REPETITION 1 NIL #\b)

* (let ((scanner (create-scanner '(:sequence a* b+))))
    (dolist (string '("ab" "b" "aab" "a" "x"))
      (print (scan scanner string)))
    (values))
0
0
0
NIL
NIL

* (parse-tree-synonym 'a*)
(:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL #\a)

* (parse-tree-synonym 'a+)
NIL


[Macro]
define-parse-tree-synonym name parse-tree => parse-tree


This is a convenience macro for parse tree synonyms defined as
(defmacro define-parse-tree-synonym (name parse-tree)
  `(eval-when (:compile-toplevel :load-toplevel :execute)
     (setf (parse-tree-synonym ',name) ',parse-tree)))
so you can write code like this:
(define-parse-tree-synonym a-z
  (:char-class (:range #\a #\z) (:range #\A #\Z)))

(define-parse-tree-synonym a-z*
  (:greedy-repetition 0 nil a-z))

(defun ascii-char-tester (string)
  (scan '(:sequence :start-anchor a-z* :end-anchor)
        string))


For the rest of this section regex can always be a string (which is interpreted as a Perl regular expression), a parse tree, or a scanner created by CREATE-SCANNER. The start and end keyword parameters are always used as in SCAN.


[Generic Function]
scan regex target-string &key start end => match-start, match-end, reg-starts, reg-ends


Searches the string target-string from start (which defaults to 0) to end (which default to the length of target-string) and tries to match regex. On success returns four values - the start of the match, the end of the match, and two arrays denoting the beginnings and ends of register matches. On failure returns NIL. target-string will be coerced to a simple string if it isn't one already. (There's another keyword parameter real-start-pos. This one should never be set from user code - it is only used internally.)

SCAN acts as if the part of target-string between start and end were a standalone string, i.e. look-aheads and look-behinds can't look beyond these boundaries.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a)*b" "xaaabd")
1
5
#(3)
#(4)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a)*b" "xaaabd" :start 1)
1
5
#(3)
#(4)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a)*b" "xaaabd" :start 2)
2
5
#(3)
#(4)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a)*b" "xaaabd" :end 4)
NIL

* (cl-ppcre:scan '(:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL #\b) "bbbc")
0
3
#()
#()

* (cl-ppcre:scan '(:GREEDY-REPETITION 4 6 #\b) "bbbc")
NIL

* (let ((s (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "(([a-c])+)x")))
    (cl-ppcre:scan s "abcxy"))
0
4
#(0 2)
#(3 3)


[Function]
scan-to-strings regex target-string &key start end sharedp => match, regs


Like SCAN but returns substrings of target-string instead of positions, i.e. this function returns two values on success: the whole match as a string plus an array of substrings (or NILs) corresponding to the matched registers. If sharedp is true, the substrings may share structure with target-string.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:scan-to-strings "[^b]*b" "aaabd")
"aaab"
#()

* (cl-ppcre:scan-to-strings "([^b])*b" "aaabd")
"aaab"
#("a")

* (cl-ppcre:scan-to-strings "(([^b])*)b" "aaabd")
"aaab"
#("aaa" "a")


[Macro]
register-groups-bind var-list (regex target-string &key start end sharedp) declaration* statement* => result*


Evaluates statement* with the variables in var-list bound to the corresponding register groups after target-string has been matched against regex, i.e. each variable is either bound to a string or to NIL. As a shortcut, the elements of var-list can also be lists of the form (FN VAR) where VAR is the variable symbol and FN is a function designator (which is evaluated) denoting a function which is to be applied to the string before the result is bound to VAR. To make this even more convenient the form (FN VAR1 ...VARn) can be used as an abbreviation for (FN VAR1) ... (FN VARn).

If there is no match, the statement* forms are not executed. For each element of var-list which is NIL there's no binding to the corresponding register group. The number of variables in var-list must not be greater than the number of register groups. If sharedp is true, the substrings may share structure with target-string.

Examples:

* (register-groups-bind (first second third fourth)
      ("((a)|(b)|(c))+" "abababc" :sharedp t)
    (list first second third fourth))
("c" "a" "b" "c")

* (register-groups-bind (nil second third fourth)
      ;; note that we don't bind the first and fifth register group
      ("((a)|(b)|(c))()+" "abababc" :start 6)
    (list second third fourth))
(NIL NIL "c")

* (register-groups-bind (first)
      ("(a|b)+" "accc" :start 1)
    (format t "This will not be printed: ~A" first))
NIL

* (register-groups-bind (fname lname (#'parse-integer date month year))
      ("(\\w+)\\s+(\\w+)\\s+(\\d{1,2})\\.(\\d{1,2})\\.(\\d{4})" "Frank Zappa 21.12.1940")
    (list fname lname (encode-universal-time 0 0 0 date month year)))
("Frank" "Zappa" 1292882400)


[Macro]
do-scans (match-start match-end reg-starts reg-ends regex target-string &optional result-form &key start end) declaration* statement* => result*


A macro which iterates over target-string and tries to match regex as often as possible evaluating statement* with match-start, match-end, reg-starts, and reg-ends bound to the four return values of each match (see SCAN) in turn. After the last match, returns result-form if provided or NIL otherwise. An implicit block named NIL surrounds DO-SCANS; RETURN may be used to terminate the loop immediately. If regex matches an empty string, the scan is continued one position behind this match.

This is the most general macro to iterate over all matches in a target string. See the source code of DO-MATCHES, ALL-MATCHES, SPLIT, or REGEX-REPLACE-ALL for examples of its usage.


[Macro]
do-matches (match-start match-end regex target-string &optional result-form &key start end) declaration* statement* => result*


Like DO-SCANS but doesn't bind variables to the register arrays.

Example:

* (defun foo (regex target-string &key (start 0) (end (length target-string)))
    (let ((sum 0))
      (cl-ppcre:do-matches (s e regex target-string nil :start start :end end)
        (incf sum (- e s)))
      (format t "~,2F% of the string was inside of a match~%"
                ;; note: doesn't check for division by zero
                (float (* 100 (/ sum (- end start)))))))

FOO

* (foo "a" "abcabcabc")
33.33% of the string was inside of a match
NIL
* (foo "aa|b" "aacabcbbc")
55.56% of the string was inside of a match
NIL


[Macro]
do-matches-as-strings (match-var regex target-string &optional result-form &key start end sharedp) declaration* statement* => result*


Like DO-MATCHES but binds match-var to the substring of target-string corresponding to each match in turn. If sharedp is true, the substrings may share structure with target-string.

Example:

* (defun crossfoot (target-string &key (start 0) (end (length target-string)))
    (let ((sum 0))
      (cl-ppcre:do-matches-as-strings (m :digit-class
                                         target-string nil
                                         :start start :end end)
        (incf sum (parse-integer m)))
      (if (< sum 10)
        sum
        (crossfoot (format nil "~A" sum)))))

CROSSFOOT

* (crossfoot "bar")
0

* (crossfoot "a3x")
3

* (crossfoot "12345")
6
Of course, in real life you would do this with DO-MATCHES and use the start and end keyword parameters of PARSE-INTEGER.


[Macro]
do-register-groups var-list (regex target-string &optional result-form &key start end sharedp) declaration* statement* => result*


Iterates over target-string and tries to match regex as often as possible evaluating statement* with the variables in var-list bound to the corresponding register groups for each match in turn, i.e. each variable is either bound to a string or to NIL. You can use the same shortcuts and abbreviations as in REGISTER-GROUPS-BIND. The number of variables in var-list must not be greater than the number of register groups. For each element of var-list which is NIL there's no binding to the corresponding register group. After the last match, returns result-form if provided or NIL otherwise. An implicit block named NIL surrounds DO-REGISTER-GROUPS; RETURN may be used to terminate the loop immediately. If regex matches an empty string, the scan is continued one position behind this match. If sharedp is true, the substrings may share structure with target-string.

Example:

* (do-register-groups (first second third fourth)
      ("((a)|(b)|(c))" "abababc" nil :start 2 :sharedp t)
    (print (list first second third fourth)))
("a" "a" NIL NIL) 
("b" NIL "b" NIL) 
("a" "a" NIL NIL) 
("b" NIL "b" NIL) 
("c" NIL NIL "c")
NIL

* (let (result)
    (do-register-groups ((#'parse-integer n) (#'intern sign) whitespace)
        ("(\\d+)|(\\+|-|\\*|/)|(\\s+)" "12*15 - 42/3")
      (unless whitespace
        (push (or n sign) result)))
    (nreverse result))
(12 * 15 - 42 / 3)


[Function]
all-matches regex target-string &key start end => list


Returns a list containing the start and end positions of all matches of regex against target-string, i.e. if there are N matches the list contains (* 2 N) elements. If regex matches an empty string the scan is continued one position behind this match.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:all-matches "a" "foo bar baz")
(5 6 9 10)

* (cl-ppcre:all-matches "\\w*" "foo bar baz")
(0 3 3 3 4 7 7 7 8 11 11 11)


[Function]
all-matches-as-strings regex target-string &key start end sharedp => list


Like ALL-MATCHES but returns a list of substrings instead. If sharedp is true, the substrings may share structure with target-string.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:all-matches-as-strings "a" "foo bar baz")
("a" "a")

* (cl-ppcre:all-matches-as-strings "\\w*" "foo bar baz")
("foo" "" "bar" "" "baz" "")


[Function]
split regex target-string &key start end limit with-registers-p omit-unmatched-p sharedp => list


Matches regex against target-string as often as possible and returns a list of the substrings between the matches. If with-registers-p is true, substrings corresponding to matched registers are inserted into the list as well. If omit-unmatched-p is true, unmatched registers will simply be left out, otherwise they will show up as NIL. limit limits the number of elements returned - registers aren't counted. If limit is NIL (or 0 which is equivalent), trailing empty strings are removed from the result list. If regex matches an empty string, the scan is continued one position behind this match. If sharedp is true, the substrings may share structure with target-string.

Beginning with CL-PPCRE 0.2.0, this function also tries hard to be Perl-compatible - thus the somewhat peculiar behaviour. But note that it hasn't been as extensively tested as SCAN.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:split "\\s+" "foo   bar baz
frob")
("foo" "bar" "baz" "frob")

* (cl-ppcre:split "\\s*" "foo bar   baz")
("f" "o" "o" "b" "a" "r" "b" "a" "z")

* (cl-ppcre:split "(\\s+)" "foo bar   baz")
("foo" "bar" "baz")

* (cl-ppcre:split "(\\s+)" "foo bar   baz" :with-registers-p t)
("foo" " " "bar" "   " "baz")

* (cl-ppcre:split "(\\s)(\\s*)" "foo bar   baz" :with-registers-p t)
("foo" " " "" "bar" " " "  " "baz")

* (cl-ppcre:split "(,)|(;)" "foo,bar;baz" :with-registers-p t)
("foo" "," NIL "bar" NIL ";" "baz")

* (cl-ppcre:split "(,)|(;)" "foo,bar;baz" :with-registers-p t :omit-unmatched-p t)
("foo" "," "bar" ";" "baz")

* (cl-ppcre:split ":" "a:b:c:d:e:f:g::")
("a" "b" "c" "d" "e" "f" "g")

* (cl-ppcre:split ":" "a:b:c:d:e:f:g::" :limit 1)
("a:b:c:d:e:f:g::")

* (cl-ppcre:split ":" "a:b:c:d:e:f:g::" :limit 2)
("a" "b:c:d:e:f:g::")

* (cl-ppcre:split ":" "a:b:c:d:e:f:g::" :limit 3)
("a" "b" "c:d:e:f:g::")

* (cl-ppcre:split ":" "a:b:c:d:e:f:g::" :limit 1000)
("a" "b" "c" "d" "e" "f" "g" "" "")


[Function]
regex-replace regex target-string replacement &key start end preserve-case simple-calls element-type => string, matchp


Try to match target-string between start and end against regex and replace the first match with replacement. Two values are returned; the modified string, and T if regex matched or NIL otherwise.

replacement can be a string which may contain the special substrings "\&" for the whole match, "\`" for the part of target-string before the match, "\'" for the part of target-string after the match, "\N" or "\{N}" for the Nth register where N is a positive integer.

replacement can also be a function designator in which case the match will be replaced with the result of calling the function designated by replacement with the arguments target-string, start, end, match-start, match-end, reg-starts, and reg-ends. (reg-starts and reg-ends are arrays holding the start and end positions of matched registers (or NIL) - the meaning of the other arguments should be obvious.)

If simple-calls is true, a function designated by replacement will instead be called with the arguments match, register-1, ..., register-n where match is the whole match as a string and register-1 to register-n are the matched registers, also as strings (or NIL). Note that these strings share structure with target-string so you must not modify them.

Finally, replacement can be a list where each element is a string (which will be inserted verbatim), one of the symbols :match, :before-match, or :after-match (corresponding to "\&", "\`", and "\'" above), an integer N (representing register (1+ N)), or a function designator.

If preserve-case is true (default is NIL), the replacement will try to preserve the case (all upper case, all lower case, or capitalized) of the match. The result will always be a fresh string, even if regex doesn't match.

element-type specifies the array element type of the string which is returned, the default is LW:SIMPLE-CHAR for LispWorks and CHARACTER for other Lisps.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "fo+" "foo bar" "frob")
"frob bar"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "fo+" "FOO bar" "frob")
"FOO bar"
NIL

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "(?i)fo+" "FOO bar" "frob")
"frob bar"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "(?i)fo+" "FOO bar" "frob" :preserve-case t)
"FROB bar"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "(?i)fo+" "Foo bar" "frob" :preserve-case t)
"Frob bar"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "bar" "foo bar baz" "[frob (was '\\&' between '\\`' and '\\'')]")
"foo [frob (was 'bar' between 'foo ' and ' baz')] baz"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "bar" "foo bar baz"
                          '("[frob (was '" :match "' between '" :before-match "' and '" :after-match "')]"))
"foo [frob (was 'bar' between 'foo ' and ' baz')] baz"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace "(be)(nev)(o)(lent)"
                          "benevolent: adj. generous, kind"
                          #'(lambda (match &rest registers)
                              (format nil "~A [~{~A~^.~}]" match registers))
                          :simple-calls t)
"benevolent [be.nev.o.lent]: adj. generous, kind"
T


[Function]
regex-replace-all regex target-string replacement &key start end preserve-case simple-calls element-type => string, matchp


Like REGEX-REPLACE but replaces all matches.

Examples:

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all "(?i)fo+" "foo Fooo FOOOO bar" "frob" :preserve-case t)
"frob Frob FROB bar"
T

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all "(?i)f(o+)" "foo Fooo FOOOO bar" "fr\\1b" :preserve-case t)
"froob Frooob FROOOOB bar"
T

* (let ((qp-regex (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "[\\x80-\\xff]")))
    (defun encode-quoted-printable (string)
      "Convert 8-bit string to quoted-printable representation."
      ;; won't work for Corman Lisp because non-ASCII characters aren't 8-bit there
      (flet ((convert (target-string start end match-start match-end reg-starts reg-ends)
             (declare (ignore start end match-end reg-starts reg-ends))
             (format nil "=~2,'0x" (char-code (char target-string match-start)))))
        (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all qp-regex string #'convert))))
Converted ENCODE-QUOTED-PRINTABLE.
ENCODE-QUOTED-PRINTABLE

* (encode-quoted-printable "Fête Sørensen naïve Hühner Straße")
"F=EAte S=F8rensen na=EFve H=FChner Stra=DFe"
T

* (let ((url-regex (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "[^a-zA-Z0-9_\\-.]")))
    (defun url-encode (string)
      "URL-encode a string."
      ;; won't work for Corman Lisp because non-ASCII characters aren't 8-bit there
      (flet ((convert (target-string start end match-start match-end reg-starts reg-ends)
             (declare (ignore start end match-end reg-starts reg-ends))
             (format nil "%~2,'0x" (char-code (char target-string match-start)))))
        (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all url-regex string #'convert))))
Converted URL-ENCODE.
URL-ENCODE

* (url-encode "Fête Sørensen naïve Hühner Straße")
"F%EAte%20S%F8rensen%20na%EFve%20H%FChner%20Stra%DFe"
T

* (defun how-many (target-string start end match-start match-end reg-starts reg-ends)
    (declare (ignore start end match-start match-end))
    (format nil "~A" (- (svref reg-ends 0)
                        (svref reg-starts 0))))
HOW-MANY

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all "{(.+?)}"
                              "foo{...}bar{.....}{..}baz{....}frob"
                              (list "[" 'how-many " dots]"))
"foo[3 dots]bar[5 dots][2 dots]baz[4 dots]frob"
T

* (let ((qp-regex (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "[\\x80-\\xff]")))
    (defun encode-quoted-printable (string)
      "Convert 8-bit string to quoted-printable representation.
Version using SIMPLE-CALLS keyword argument."
      ;; ;; won't work for Corman Lisp because non-ASCII characters aren't 8-bit there
      (flet ((convert (match)
               (format nil "=~2,'0x" (char-code (char match 0)))))
        (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all qp-regex string #'convert
                                    :simple-calls t))))

Converted ENCODE-QUOTED-PRINTABLE.
ENCODE-QUOTED-PRINTABLE

* (encode-quoted-printable "Fête Sørensen naïve Hühner Straße")
"F=EAte S=F8rensen na=EFve H=FChner Stra=DFe"
T

* (defun how-many (match first-register)
    (declare (ignore match))
    (format nil "~A" (length first-register)))
HOW-MANY

* (cl-ppcre:regex-replace-all "{(.+?)}"
                              "foo{...}bar{.....}{..}baz{....}frob"
                              (list "[" 'how-many " dots]")
                              :simple-calls t)

"foo[3 dots]bar[5 dots][2 dots]baz[4 dots]frob"
T


[Function]
regex-apropos regex &optional packages &key case-insensitive => list


Like APROPOS but searches for interned symbols which match the regular expression regex. The output is implementation-dependent. If case-insensitive is true (which is the default) and regex isn't already a scanner, a case-insensitive scanner is used.

Here are examples for CMUCL:

* *package*
#<The COMMON-LISP-USER package, 16/21 internal, 0/9 external>

* (defun foo (n &optional (k 0)) (+ 3 n k))
FOO

* (defparameter foo "bar")
FOO

* (defparameter |foobar| 42)
|foobar|

* (defparameter fooboo 43)
FOOBOO

* (defclass frobar () ())
#<STANDARD-CLASS FROBAR {4874E625}>

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos "foo(?:bar)?")
FOO [variable] value: "bar"
    [compiled function] (N &OPTIONAL (K 0))
FOOBOO [variable] value: 43
|foobar| [variable] value: 42

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos "(?:foo|fro)bar")
PCL::|COMMON-LISP-USER::FROBAR class predicate| [compiled closure]
FROBAR [class] #<STANDARD-CLASS FROBAR {4874E625}>
|foobar| [variable] value: 42

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos "(?:foo|fro)bar" 'cl-user)
FROBAR [class] #<STANDARD-CLASS FROBAR {4874E625}>
|foobar| [variable] value: 42

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos "(?:foo|fro)bar" '(pcl ext))
PCL::|COMMON-LISP-USER::FROBAR class predicate| [compiled closure]

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos "foo")
FOO [variable] value: "bar"
    [compiled function] (N &OPTIONAL (K 0))
FOOBOO [variable] value: 43
|foobar| [variable] value: 42

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos "foo" nil :case-insensitive nil)
|foobar| [variable] value: 42


[Function]
regex-apropos-list regex &optional packages &key upcase => list


Like APROPOS-LIST but searches for interned symbols which match the regular expression regex. If case-insensitive is true (which is the default) and regex isn't already a scanner, a case-insensitive scanner is used.

Example (continued from above):

* (cl-ppcre:regex-apropos-list "foo(?:bar)?")
(|foobar| FOOBOO FOO)


[Special variable]
*regex-char-code-limit*


This variable controls whether scanners take into account all characters of your CL implementation or only those the CHAR-CODE of which is not larger than its value. The default is CHAR-CODE-LIMIT, and you might see significant speed and space improvements during scanner creation if, say, your target strings only contain ISO-8859-1 characters and you're using an implementation like AllegroCL, CLISP, LispWorks, or SBCL where CHAR-CODE-LIMIT has a value much higher than 256. The test suite will automatically set *REGEX-CHAR-CODE-LIMIT* to 256 while you're running the default test.

Here's an example with LispWorks:

CL-USER 23 > (time (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "[3\\D]"))
Timing the evaluation of (CL-PPCRE:CREATE-SCANNER "[3\\D]")

user time    =      0.443
system time  =      0.001
Elapsed time =   0:00:01
Allocation   = 546600 bytes standard / 2162611 bytes fixlen
0 Page faults
#<closure 20654AF2>

CL-USER 24 > (time (let ((cl-ppcre:*regex-char-code-limit* 256)) (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "[3\\D]")))
Timing the evaluation of (LET ((CL-PPCRE:*REGEX-CHAR-CODE-LIMIT* 256)) (CL-PPCRE:CREATE-SCANNER "[3\\D]"))

user time    =      0.000
system time  =      0.000
Elapsed time =   0:00:00
Allocation   = 3336 bytes standard / 8338 bytes fixlen
0 Page faults
#<closure 206569DA>

Note: Due to the nature of LOAD-TIME-VALUE and the compiler macro for SCAN and other functions, some scanners might be created in a null lexical environment at load time or at compile time so be careful to which value *REGEX-CHAR-CODE-LIMIT* is bound at that time. The default value should always yield correct results unless you play dirty tricks with implementation-dependent behaviour, though.


[Special variable]
*use-bmh-matchers*


Usually, the scanners created by CREATE-SCANNER (or implicitly by other functions and macros) will use fast Boyer-Moore-Horspool matchers to check for constant strings at the start or end of the regular expression. If *USE-BMH-MATCHERS* is NIL (the default is T), the standard function SEARCH will be used instead. This will usually be a bit slower but can save lots of space if you're storing many scanners. The test suite will automatically set *USE-BMH-MATCHERS* to NIL while you're running the default test.

Note: Due to the nature of LOAD-TIME-VALUE and the compiler macro for SCAN and other functions, some scanners might be created in a null lexical environment at load time or at compile time so be careful to which value *USE-BMH-MATCHERS* is bound at that time.


[Special variable]
*allow-quoting*


If this value is true (the default is NIL), CL-PPCRE will support \Q and \E in regex strings to quote (disable) metacharacters. Note that this entails a slight performance penalty when creating scanners because (a copy of) the regex string is modified (probably more than once) before it is fed to the parser. Also, the parser's syntax error messages will complain about the converted string and not about the original regex string.
* (cl-ppcre:scan "^a+$" "a+")
NIL

* (let ((cl-ppcre:*allow-quoting* t))
    ;;we use CREATE-SCANNER because of Lisps like SBCL that don't have an interpreter
    (cl-ppcre:scan (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "^\\Qa+\\E$") "a+"))
0
2
#()
#()

* (let ((cl-ppcre:*allow-quoting* t))
    (cl-ppcre:scan (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "\\Qa()\\E(?#comment\\Q)a**b") "()ab"))

Quantifier '*' not allowed at position 19 in string "a\\(\\)(?#commentQ)a**b"
Note how in the last example the regex string in the error message is different from the first argument to the SCAN function. Also note that the second example might be easier to understand (and Lisp-ier) if you write it like this:
* (cl-ppcre:scan '(:sequence :start-anchor
                             "a+" ;; no quoting necessary
                             :end-anchor)
                 "a+")
0
2
#()
#()
Make sure you also read the relevant section in "Bugs and problems."

Note: Due to the nature of LOAD-TIME-VALUE and the compiler macro for SCAN and other functions, some scanners might be created in a null lexical environment at load time or at compile time so be careful to which value *ALLOW-QUOTING* is bound at that time.


[Special variable]
*allow-named-registers*


If this value is true (the default is NIL), CL-PPCRE will support (?<name>"<regex>") and \k<name> in regex strings to provide named registers and back-references as in AllegroCL. name is has to start with a letter and can contain only alphanumeric characters or minus sign. Names of registers are matched case-sensitively. The parse tree syntax is not affected by the *ALLOW-NAMED-REGISTERS* switch, :NAMED-REGISTER and :BACK-REFERENCE forms are always resolved as expected. There are also no restrictions on register names in this syntax except that they have to be strings.

Examples:

;; Perl compatible mode (*ALLOW-NAMED-REGISTERS* is NIL)
* (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "(?<reg>.*)")
Character 'r' may not follow '(?<' at position 3 in string "(?<reg>)"

;; just unescapes "\\k"
* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "\\k<reg>")
"k<reg>"
* (setq cl-ppcre:*allow-named-registers* t)
T

* (cl-ppcre:create-scanner "((?<small>[a-z]*)(?<big>[A-Z]*))")
#<CLOSURE (LAMBDA (STRING CL-PPCRE::START CL-PPCRE::END)) {AD75BFD}>
(NIL "small" "big")

;; the scanner doesn't capture any information about named groups -
;; you have to store the second value returned from CREATE-SCANNER yourself
* (cl-ppcre:scan * "aaaBBB")
0
6
#(0 0 3)
#(6 3 6)
;; parse tree syntax
* (cl-ppcre::parse-string "((?<small>[a-z]*)(?<big>[A-Z]*))")
(:REGISTER
 (:SEQUENCE
  (:NAMED-REGISTER "small"
   (:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL (:CHAR-CLASS (:RANGE #\a #\z))))
  (:NAMED-REGISTER "big"
   (:GREEDY-REPETITION 0 NIL (:CHAR-CLASS (:RANGE #\A #\Z))))))

* (cl-ppcre:create-scanner *)
#<CLOSURE (LAMBDA (STRING CL-PPCRE::START CL-PPCRE::END)) {B158E3D}>
(NIL "small" "big")
;; multiple-choice back-reference
* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>[ab])(?<reg>[12])\\k<reg>\\k<reg>$" "a1aa")
0
4
#(0 1)
#(1 2)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>[ab])(?<reg>[12])\\k<reg>\\k<reg>$" "a22a")
0
4
#(0 1)
#(1 2)
;; demonstrating most-recently-seen-register-first property of back-reference;
;; "greedy" regex (analogous to "aa?")
* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>)(?<reg>a)(\\k<reg>)" "a")
0
1
#(0 0 1)
#(0 1 1)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>)(?<reg>a)(\\k<reg>)" "aa")
0
2
#(0 0 1)
#(0 1 2)
;; switched groups
;; "lazy" regex (analogous to "aa??")
* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>a)(?<reg>)(\\k<reg>)" "a")
0
1
#(0 1 1)
#(1 1 1)

;; scanner ignores the second "a"
* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>a)(?<reg>)(\\k<reg>)" "aa")
0
1
#(0 1 1)
#(1 1 1)

;; "aa" will be matched only when forced by adding "$" at the end
* (cl-ppcre:scan "^(?<reg>a)(?<reg>)(\\k<reg>)$" "aa")
0
2
#(0 1 1)
#(1 1 2)
Note: Due to the nature of LOAD-TIME-VALUE and the compiler macro for SCAN and other functions, some scanners might be created in a null lexical environment at load time or at compile time so be careful to which value *ALLOW-NAMED-REGISTERS* is bound at that time.


[Function]
quote-meta-chars string => string'


This is a simple utility function used when *ALLOW-QUOTING* is true. It returns a string STRING' where all non-word characters (everything except ASCII characters, digits and underline) of STRING are quoted by prepending a backslash similar to Perl's quotemeta function. It always returns a fresh string.
* (cl-ppcre:quote-meta-chars "[a-z]*")
"\\[a\\-z\\]\\*"


[Condition type]
ppcre-error


Every error signaled by CL-PPCRE is of type PPCRE-ERROR. This is a direct subtype of SIMPLE-ERROR without any additional slots or options.


[Condition type]
ppcre-invocation-error


Errors of type PPCRE-INVOCATION-ERROR are signaled if one of the exported functions of CL-PPCRE is called with wrong or inconsistent arguments. This is a direct subtype of PPCRE-ERROR without any additional slots or options.


[Condition type]
ppcre-syntax-error


An error of type PPCRE-SYNTAX-ERROR is signaled if CL-PPCRE's parser encounters an error when trying to parse a regex string or to convert a parse tree into its internal representation. This is a direct subtype of PPCRE-ERROR with two additional slots. These denote the regex string which HTML-PPCRE was parsing and the position within the string where the error occurred. If the error happens while CL-PPCRE is converting a parse tree, both of these slots contain NIL. (See the next two entries on how to access these slots.)

As many syntax errors can't be detected before the parser is at the end of the stream, the row and column usually denote the last position where the parser was happy and not the position where it gave up.

* (handler-case
    (cl-ppcre:scan "foo**x" "fooox")
    (cl-ppcre:ppcre-syntax-error (condition)
      (format t "Houston, we've got a problem with the string ~S:~%~
                 Looks like something went wrong at position ~A.~%~
                 The last message we received was \"~?\"."
              (cl-ppcre:ppcre-syntax-error-string condition)
              (cl-ppcre:ppcre-syntax-error-pos condition)
              (simple-condition-format-control condition)
              (simple-condition-format-arguments condition))
      (values)))
Houston, we've got a problem with the string "foo**x":
Looks like something went wrong at position 4.
The last message we received was "Quantifier '*' not allowed".


[Function]
ppcre-syntax-error-string condition => string


If condition is a condition of type PPCRE-SYNTAX-ERROR, this function will return the string the parser was parsing when the error was encountered (or NIL if the error happened while trying to convert a parse tree). This might be particularly useful when *ALLOW-QUOTING* is true because in this case the offending string might not be the one you gave to the CREATE-SCANNER function.


[Function]
ppcre-syntax-error-pos condition => number


If condition is a condition of type PPCRE-SYNTAX-ERROR, this function will return the position within the string where the error occurred (or NIL if the error happened while trying to convert a parse tree).

 

Filters

Because several users have asked for it, CL-PPCRE now offers "filters" (see above for syntax) which are basically arbitrary, user-defined functions that can act as regex building blocks. Filters can only be used within parse trees, not within Perl regex strings.

A filter is defined by its filter function which must be a function of one argument. During the parsing process this function might be called once or several times or it might not be called at all. If it's called, its argument is an integer pos which is the current position within the target string. The filter can either return NIL (which means that the subexpression represented by this filter didn't match) or an integer not smaller than pos for success. A zero-length assertion should return pos itself while a filter which wants to consume N characters should return (+ POS N).

If you supply the optional value length and it is not NIL, then this is a promise to the regex engine that your filter will always consume exactly length characters. The regex engine might use this information for optimization purposes but it is otherwise irrelevant to the outcome of the matching process.

The filter function can access the following special variables from its code body:

These variables should be considered read-only. Do not change these values unless you really know what you're doing!

Note that the names of the variables are not exported from the CL-PPCRE package because there's currently no guarantee that they will be available in future releases.

Here are some filter examples:

* (defun my-info-filter (pos)
    "Show some info about the matching process."
    (format t "Called at position ~A~%" pos)
    (loop with dim = (array-dimension cl-ppcre::*reg-starts* 0)
          for i below dim
          for reg-start = (aref cl-ppcre::*reg-starts* i)
          for reg-end = (aref cl-ppcre::*reg-ends* i)
          do (format t "Register ~A is currently " (1+ i))
          when reg-start
               (write-string cl-ppcre::*string* nil
            do (write-char #\')
               (write-string cl-ppcre::*string* nil
                     :start reg-start :end reg-end)
               (write-char #\')
          else
            do (write-string "unbound")
          do (terpri))
    (terpri)
    pos)
MY-INFO-FILTER

* (scan '(:sequence
           (:register
             (:greedy-repetition 0 nil
                                 (:char-class (:range #\a #\z))))
           (:filter my-info-filter 0) "X")
        "bYcdeX")
Called at position 1
Register 1 is currently 'b'

Called at position 0
Register 1 is currently ''

Called at position 1
Register 1 is currently ''

Called at position 5
Register 1 is currently 'cde'

2
6
#(2)
#(5)

* (scan '(:sequence
           (:register
             (:greedy-repetition 0 nil
                                 (:char-class (:range #\a #\z))))
           (:filter my-info-filter 0) "X")
        "bYcdeZ")
NIL

* (defun my-weird-filter (pos)
    "Only match at this point if either pos is odd and the character
  we're looking at is lowercase or if pos is even and the next two
  characters we're looking at are uppercase. Consume these characters if
  there's a match."
    (format t "Trying at position ~A~%" pos)
    (cond ((and (oddp pos)
                (< pos cl-ppcre::*end-pos*)
                (lower-case-p (char cl-ppcre::*string* pos)))
           (1+ pos))
          ((and (evenp pos)
                (< (1+ pos) cl-ppcre::*end-pos*)
                (upper-case-p (char cl-ppcre::*string* pos))
                (upper-case-p (char cl-ppcre::*string* (1+ pos))))
           (+ pos 2))
          (t nil)))
MY-WEIRD-FILTER

* (defparameter *weird-regex*
                `(:sequence "+" (:filter ,#'my-weird-filter) "+"))
*WEIRD-REGEX*

* (scan *weird-regex* "+A++a+AA+")
Trying at position 1
Trying at position 3
Trying at position 4
Trying at position 6
5
9
#()
#()

* (fmakunbound 'my-weird-filter)
MY-WEIRD-FILTER

* (scan *weird-regex* "+A++a+AA+")
Trying at position 1
Trying at position 3
Trying at position 4
Trying at position 6
5
9
#()
#()
Note that in the second call to SCAN our filter wasn't invoked at all - it was optimized away by the regex engine because it knew that it couldn't match. Also note that *WEIRD-REGEX* still worked after we removed the global function definition of MY-WEIRD-FILTER because the regular expression had captured the original definition.

For more ideas about what you can do with filters see this thread on the mailing list.
 

Testing CL-PPCRE

CL-PPCRE comes with a comprehensive test suite most of which is stolen from the PCRE library. You can use it like this:
* (mk:compile-system "cl-ppcre-test")
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/cl-ppcre.system".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/packages.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/specials.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/util.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/errors.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/lexer.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/parser.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/regex-class.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/convert.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/optimize.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/closures.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/repetition-closures.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/scanner.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/api.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/ppcre-tests.x86f".
NIL

* (cl-ppcre-test:test)

;; ....
;; (a list of incompatibilities with Perl)
(If you're not using MK:DEFSYSTEM or asdf, it suffices to build CL-PPCRE and then compile and load the file ppcre-tests.lisp.)

With LispWorks, SCL, and SBCL (starting from version 0.8.4.8) you can also call CL-PPCRE-TEST:TEST with a keyword argument argument THREADED which - in addition to the usual tests - will also check whether the scanners created by CL-PPCRE are thread-safe.

Note that the file testdata provided with CL-PPCRE was created on a Linux system with Perl 5.8.0. You can (and you should if you're on Mac OS or Windows) create your own testdata with the Perl script perltest.pl:

edi@bird:~/cl-ppcre > perl perltest.pl < testinput > testdata
Of course you can also create your own tests - the format accepted by perltest.pl should be rather clear from looking at the file testinput. Note that the target strings are wrapped in double quotes and then fed to Perl's eval so you can use ugly Perl constructs like, say, a@{['b' x 10]}c which will result in the target string "abbbbbbbbbbc".
 

Compatibility with Perl

Depending on your Perl version you might encounter a couple of small incompatibilities with Perl most of which aren't due to CL-PPCRE:

Empty strings instead of undef in $1, $2, etc.

(Cf. case #629 of testdata.) This is a bug in Perl 5.6.1 and earlier which has been fixed in 5.8.0.

Strange scoping of embedded modifiers

(Cf. case #430 of testdata.) This is a bug in Perl 5.6.1 and earlier which has been fixed in 5.8.0.

Inconsistent capturing of $1, $2, etc.

(Cf. case #662 of testdata.) This is a bug in Perl which hasn't been fixed yet.

Captured groups not available outside of look-aheads and look-behinds

(Cf. case #1439 of testdata.) Well, OK, this ain't a Perl bug. I just can't quite understand why captured groups should only be seen within the scope of a look-ahead or look-behind. For the moment, CL-PPCRE and Perl agree to disagree... :)

Alternations don't always work from left to right

(Cf. case #790 of testdata.) I also think this a Perl bug but I currently have lost the drive to report it.

"\r" doesn't work with MCL

(Cf. case #9 of testdata.) For some strange reason that I don't understand MCL translates #\Return to (CODE-CHAR 10) while MacPerl translates "\r" to (CODE-CHAR 13). Hmmm...

What about "\w"?

CL-PPCRE uses ALPHANUMERICP to decide whether a character matches Perl's "\w", so depending on your CL implementation you might encounter differences between Perl and CL-PPCRE when matching non-ASCII characters.
 

Performance

Benchmarking

The CL-PPCRE test suite can also be used for benchmarking purposes: If you call perltest.pl with a command line argument, it will be interpreted as the minimum number of seconds each test should run. Perl will time its tests accordingly and create output which, when fed to CL-PPCRE-TEST:TEST, will result in a benchmark. Here's an example:
edi@bird:~/cl-ppcre > echo "/((a{0,5}){0,5})*[c]/
aaaaaaaaaaaac

/((a{0,5})*)*[c]/
aaaaaaaaaaaac" | perl perltest.pl .5 > timedata
1
2

edi@bird:~/cl-ppcre > cmucl -quiet
; Loading #p"/home/edi/.cmucl-init".

* (mk:compile-system "cl-ppcre-test")
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/cl-ppcre.system".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/packages.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/specials.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/util.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/errors.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/lexer.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/parser.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/regex-class.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/convert.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/optimize.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/closures.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/repetition-closures.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/scanner.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/api.x86f".
; Loading #p"/home/edi/cl-ppcre/ppcre-tests.x86f".
NIL

* (cl-ppcre-test:test :file-name "/home/edi/cl-ppcre/timedata")
   1: 0.5559 (1000000 repetitions, Perl: 4.5330 seconds, CL-PPCRE: 2.5200 seconds)
   2: 0.4573 (1000000 repetitions, Perl: 4.5922 seconds, CL-PPCRE: 2.1000 seconds)
NIL
We gave two test cases to perltest.pl and asked it to repeat those tests often enough so that it takes at least 0.5 seconds to run each of them. In both cases, CMUCL was about twice as fast as Perl.

Here are some more benchmarks (done with Perl 5.6.1 and CMUCL 18d+ in 2002):

Test caseRepetitionsPerl (sec)CL-PPCRE (sec)Ratio CL-PPCRE/Perl
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /(.)*/s1000000.13940.07000.5022
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /(.)*/s1000000.16280.06000.3685
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /(.)*/s1000000.50710.06000.1183
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /(.)*/s100000.39020.00000.0000
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /.*/1000000.15200.08000.5262
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /.*/1000000.37860.54001.4263
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /.*/100000.27090.51001.8826
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /.*/10000.27340.51001.8656
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /.*/s1000000.13200.03000.2274
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /.*/s1000000.16340.03000.1836
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /.*/s1000000.53040.03000.0566
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /.*/s100000.39660.00000.0000
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /x*/1000000.15070.09000.5970
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /x*/1000000.37820.63001.6658
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /x*/100000.27300.60002.1981
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /x*/10000.27080.59002.1790
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /[xy]*/1000000.26370.15000.5688
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /[xy]*/100000.14490.12000.8282
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /[xy]*/10000.13440.11000.8185
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /[xy]*/1000.13550.12000.8857
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /(.)*/1000000.15230.11000.7220
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /(.)*/1000000.37350.57001.5262
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /(.)*/100000.27350.51001.8647
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /(.)*/10000.25980.50001.9242
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /(x)*/1000000.15650.13000.8307
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /(x)*/1000000.37830.66001.7446
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /(x)*/100000.27200.60002.2055
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /(x)*/10000.27250.60002.2020
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /(y|x)*/100000.24110.10000.4147
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /(y|x)*/10000.23130.09000.3891
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /(y|x)*/1000.23360.09000.3852
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /(y|x)*/100.41650.09000.2161
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /([xy])*/1000000.26780.18000.6721
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /([xy])*/100000.14590.12000.8227
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /([xy])*/10000.13720.11000.8017
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /([xy])*/1000.13580.11000.8098
"@{['x' x 100]}" =~ /((x){2})*/100000.10730.04000.3727
"@{['x' x 1000]}" =~ /((x){2})*/100000.91460.24000.2624
"@{['x' x 10000]}" =~ /((x){2})*/10000.90200.23000.2550
"@{['x' x 100000]}" =~ /((x){2})*/1000.89830.23000.2560
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/1000000.28290.23000.8129
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/100000.18590.17000.9143
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/10000.14200.17001.1968
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}NOPE" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/10000000.91960.46000.5002
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}NOPE" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/1000000.21660.25001.1542
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}NOPE" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/100000.14650.23001.5696
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /([a-z])*FOOBARBAZ/1000000.29170.26000.8915
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /([a-z])*FOOBARBAZ/100000.18110.18000.9942
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /([a-z])*FOOBARBAZ/10000.14240.16001.1233
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}NOPE" =~ /([a-z])*FOOBARBAZ/10000000.91540.74000.8083
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}NOPE" =~ /([a-z])*FOOBARBAZ/1000000.21700.28001.2901
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}NOPE" =~ /([a-z])*FOOBARBAZ/100000.14970.23001.5360
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /([a-z]|ab)*FOOBARBAZ/100000.43590.15000.3441
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /([a-z]|ab)*FOOBARBAZ/10000.54560.15000.2749
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}FOOBARBAZ" =~ /([a-z]|ab)*FOOBARBAZ/100.20390.06000.2943
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}NOPE" =~ /([a-z]|ab)*FOOBARBAZ/10000000.93110.74000.7947
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}NOPE" =~ /([a-z]|ab)*FOOBARBAZ/1000000.21620.27001.2489
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}NOPE" =~ /([a-z]|ab)*FOOBARBAZ/100000.14880.23001.5455
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..100)]}NOPE" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/i10000.15550.00000.0000
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..1000)]}NOPE" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/i100.14410.00000.0000
"@{[join undef, map { chr(ord('a') + rand 26) } (1..10000)]}NOPE" =~ /[a-z]*FOOBARBAZ/i1013.71500.01000.0007

As you might have noticed, Perl shines if it can reduce significant parts of the matching process to cases where it can advance through the target string one character at a time. This leads to C code where you can very efficiently test and increment a pointer into a string in a tight loop and can hardly be beaten with CL. In almost all other cases, the CMUCL/CL-PPCRE combination is usually faster than Perl - sometimes a lot faster.

As most of the examples above were chosen to make Perl look good here's another benchmark - the result of running perltest.pl against the full testdata file with a time limit of 0.1 seconds, CL-PPCRE 0.1.2 on CMUCL 18e-pre vs. Perl 5.6.1. CL-PPCRE is faster than Perl in 1511 of 1545 cases - in 1045 cases it's more than twice as fast.

Note that Perl as well as CL-PPCRE keep the rightmost matches in registers - keep that in mind if you benchmark against other regex implementations. Also note that CL-PPCRE-TEST:TEST automatically skips test cases where Perl and CL-PPCRE don't agree.

Other performance issues

While the scanners created by CL-PPCRE are pretty fast, the process which creates scanners from Perl regex strings and parse trees isn't that speedy and conses a lot. It is recommended that you store and re-use scanners if possible. The DO-macros will do this for you automatically.

However, beginning with version 0.5.2, CL-PPCRE uses a compiler macro and LOAD-TIME-VALUE to make sure that the scanner is only built once if the first argument to SCAN, SCAN-TO-STRINGS, SPLIT, REGEX-REPLACE, or REGEX-REPLACE-ALL is a constant form. (But see the notes for *REGEX-CHAR-CODE-LIMIT* and *USE-BMH-MATCHERS*.)

Here's an example of its effect

* (trace cl-ppcre::convert)
(CL-PPCRE::CONVERT)
* (defun foo (string) (cl-ppcre:scan "(?s).*" string))
FOO
* (time (foo "The quick brown fox"))
Compiling LAMBDA NIL: 
Compiling Top-Level Form: 

  0: (CL-PPCRE::CONVERT #<lambda-list-unavailable>)
  0: CL-PPCRE::CONVERT returned
       #<CL-PPCRE::SEQ {48B033C5}>
       0
       #<CL-PPCRE::EVERYTHING {48B031D5}>
Evaluation took:
  0.0 seconds of real time
  0.00293 seconds of user run time
  9.77e-4 seconds of system run time
  0 page faults and
  11,408 bytes consed.
0
19
#()
#()
* (time (foo "The quick brown fox"))
Compiling LAMBDA NIL: 
Compiling Top-Level Form: 

  0: (CL-PPCRE::CONVERT #<lambda-list-unavailable>)
  0: CL-PPCRE::CONVERT returned
       #<CL-PPCRE::SEQ {48B14C4D}>
       0
       #<CL-PPCRE::EVERYTHING {48B14B65}>
Evaluation took:
  0.0 seconds of real time
  0.00293 seconds of user run time
  0.0 seconds of system run time
  0 page faults and
  10,960 bytes consed.
0
19
#()
#()
* (compile 'foo)
  0: (CL-PPCRE::CONVERT #<lambda-list-unavailable>)
  0: CL-PPCRE::CONVERT returned
       #<CL-PPCRE::SEQ {48B1FEC5}>
       0
       #<CL-PPCRE::EVERYTHING {48B1FDDD}>
Compiling LAMBDA (STRING): 
Compiling Top-Level Form: 
FOO
NIL
NIL
* (time (foo "The quick brown fox"))
Compiling LAMBDA NIL: 
Compiling Top-Level Form: 

Evaluation took:
  0.0 seconds of real time
  0.0 seconds of user run time
  0.0 seconds of system run time
  0 page faults and
  0 bytes consed.
0
19
#()
#()
* (time (foo "The quick brown fox"))
Compiling LAMBDA NIL: 
Compiling Top-Level Form: 

Evaluation took:
  0.0 seconds of real time
  0.0 seconds of user run time
  0.0 seconds of system run time
  0 page faults and
  0 bytes consed.
0
19
#()
#()
* 

Of course, the usual rules for creating efficient regular expressions apply to CL-PPCRE as well although it can optimize a couple of cases itself. The most important rule is probably that you shouldn't use capturing groups if you don't need the captured information, i.e. use "(?:a|b)*" instead of "(a|b)*" if you don't need to refer to the register. (In fact, in this particular case CL-PPCRE will be able to optimize away the register group, but it won't if you replace "a|b" with, say, "a|bc".)

Another point worth mentioning is that you definitely should use single-line mode if you have long strings without #\Newline (or where you don't care about the line breaks) and plan to use regular expressions like ".*". See the benchmarks for comparisons between single-line mode and normal mode with such target strings.

Another thing to consider is that, for performance reasons, CL-PPCRE assumes that most of the target strings you're trying to match are simple strings and coerces non-simple strings to simple strings before scanning them. If you plan on working with non-simple strings mostly, you might consider modifying the CL-PPCRE source code. This is easy: Change all occurrences of SCHAR to CHAR and redefine the macro in util.lisp where the coercion takes place - that's all.
 

Bugs and problems

Stack overflow

CL-PPCRE can optimize away a lot of unnecessary backtracking but sometimes this simply isn't possible. With complicated regular expressions and long strings this might lead to stack overflows depending on your machine and your CL implementation.

Here's one example with CLISP:

[1]> (defun target (n) (concatenate 'string (make-string n :initial-element #\a) "b"))
TARGET

[2]> (cl-ppcre:scan "a*" (target 1000))
0 ;
1000 ;
#() ;
#()

[3]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(?:a|b)*" (target 1000))
0 ;
1001 ;
#() ;
#()

[4]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|b)*" (target 1000))
0 ;
1001 ;
#(1000) ;
#(1001)

[5]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|b)*" (target 10000))
0 ;
10001 ;
#(10000) ;
#(10001)

[6]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|b)*" (target 100000))
0 ;
100001 ;
#(100000) ;
#(100001)

[7]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|b)*" (target 1000000))
0 ;
1000001 ;
#(1000000) ;
#(1000001)

;; No problem until now - but...

[8]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 100000))
*** - Lisp stack overflow. RESET

[9]> (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 3200))
*** - Lisp stack overflow. RESET

With CMUCL the situation is better and worse at the same time. It will take a lot longer until CMUCL gives up but if it gives up the whole Lisp image will silently die (at least on my machine):

[Note: This was true for CMUCL 18e - CMUCL 19a behaves in a much nicer way and gives you a chance to recover.]

* (defun target (n) (concatenate 'string (make-string n :initial-element #\a) "b"))
TARGET

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 3200))
0
3200
#(3200)
#(3200)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 10000))
0
10000
#(10000)
#(10000)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 100000))
0
100000
#(100000)
#(100000)

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 1000000))
0
1000000
#(1000000)
#(1000000)

;; No problem until now - but...

* (cl-ppcre:scan "(a|)*" (target 10000000))
edi@bird:~ >
This behaviour can be changed with very conservative optimization settings but that'll make CL-PPCRE crawl compared to Perl.

You might want to compare this to the way Perl handles the same situation. It might lie to you:

edi@bird:~ > perl -le '$_="a" x 32766 . "b"; /(a|)*/; print $1'

edi@bird:~ > perl -le '$_="a" x 32767 . "b"; /(a|)*/; print $1'
a
Or it might warn you before it's lying to you:
edi@bird:~ > perl -lwe '$_="a" x 32767 . "b"; /(a|)*/; print $1'
Complex regular subexpression recursion limit (32766) exceeded at -e line 1.
a
Or it might simply die:
edi@bird:~ > /opt/perl-5.8/bin/perl -lwe '$_="a" x 32767 . "b"; /(a|)*/; print $1'
Segmentation fault
Your mileage may vary, of course...

"\Q" doesn't work, or does it?

In Perl the following code works as expected, i.e. it prints 1.
#!/usr/bin/perl -l

$a = '\E*';
print 1
  if '\E*\E*' =~ /(?:\Q$a\E){2}/;
If you try to do something similar in CL-PPCRE, you get an error:
* (let ((cl-ppcre:*allow-quoting* t)
        (a "\\E*"))
    (cl-ppcre:scan (concatenate 'string "(?:\\Q" a "\\E){2}") "\\E*\\E*"))
Quantifier '*' not allowed at position 3 in string "(?:*\\E){2}"
The error message might give you a hint as to why this happens: Because *ALLOW-QUOTING* was true the concatenated string was pre-processed before it was fed to CL-PPCRE's parser - the result of this pre-processing is "(?:*\\E){2}" because the "\\E" in the string A was taken to be the end of the quoted section started by "\\Q". This cannot happen in Perl due to its complicated interpolation rules - see man perlop for the scary details. It can happen in CL-PPCRE, though. Bummer!

What gives? "\\Q...\\E" in CL-PPCRE should only be used in literal strings. If you want to quote arbitrary strings, try CL-INTERPOL or use QUOTE-META-CHARS:

* (let ((a "\\E*"))
    (cl-ppcre:scan (concatenate 'string
                                "(?:" (cl-ppcre:quote-meta-chars a) "){2}")
                   "\\E*\\E*"))
0
6
#()
#()
Or, even better and Lisp-ier, use the S-expression syntax instead - no need for quoting in this case:
* (let ((a "\\E*"))
    (cl-ppcre:scan `(:greedy-repetition 2 2 ,a)
                   "\\E*\\E*"))
0
6
#()
#()

Backslashes may confuse you...

* (let ((a "y\\y"))
    (cl-ppcre:scan a a))
NIL
You didn't expect this to yield NIL, did you? Shouldn't something like (CL-PPCRE:SCAN A A) always return a true value? No, because the first and the second argument to SCAN are handled differently: The first argument is fed to CL-PPCRE's parser and is treated like a Perl regular expression. In particular, the parser "sees" \y and converts it to y because \y has no special meaning in regular expressions. So, the regular expression is the constant string "yy". But the second argument isn't converted - it is left as is, i.e. it's equivalent to Perl's 'y\y'. In other words, this example would be equivalent to the Perl code
'y\y' =~ /y\y/;
or to
$a = 'y\y';
$a =~ /$a/;
which should explain why it doesn't match.

Still confused? You might want to try CL-INTERPOL.
 

Remarks

The sample output from CMUCL and CLISP has been slightly edited to increase readability.

All test cases and benchmarks in this document where performed on an IBM Thinkpad T23 laptop (Pentium III 1.2 GHz, 768 MB RAM) running Gentoo Linux 1.1a.
 

AllegroCL compatibility mode

Since autumn 2004 AllegroCL offers a new regular expression API with a syntax very similar to CL-PPCRE. Although CL-PPCRE is quite fast already, AllegroCL's engine will most likely be even faster (but only on AllegroCL, of course). However, you might want to stick to CL-PPCRE because you have a "legacy" application or because you want your code to be portable to other Lisp implementations. Therefore, beginning from version 1.2.0, CL-PPCRE offers a "compatibility mode" where you can continue using the CL-PPCRE API as described above but deploy the AllegroCL regex engine under the hood. (The details are: Calls to CREATE-SCANNER and SCAN are dispatched to their AllegroCL counterparts EXCL:COMPILE-RE and EXCL:MATCH-RE while everything else is left as is.)

The advantage of this mode is that you'll get a much smaller image and most likely faster code. (But note that CL-PPCRE needs to do a small amount of work to massage AllegroCL's output into the format expected by CL-PPCRE.) The downside is that your code won't be fully compatible with CL-PPCRE anymore. Here are some of the differences (most of which probably don't matter very often):

For more details about the AllegroCL engine and possible deviations from CL-PPCRE see the documentation at the Franz Inc. website.

To use the AllegroCL compatibility mode you have to

(push :use-acl-regexp2-engine *features*)
before you compile CL-PPCRE.
 

Acknowledgements

Although I didn't use their code I was heavily inspired by looking at the Scheme/CL regex implementations of Dorai Sitaram and Michael Parker. Also, the nice folks from CMUCL's mailing list as well as the output of Perl's use re "debug" pragma have been very helpful in optimizing the scanners created by CL-PPCRE.

The asdf system definitions were kindly provided by Marco Baringer. Hannu Koivisto provided patches to make the .system files more usable. Thanks to Kevin Rosenberg and Douglas Crosher for pointing out how to be friendly to case-sensitive ACL images. Thanks to Karsten Poeck and JP Massar for their help in making CL-PPCRE work with Corman Lisp. JP Massar and Kent M. Pitman also helped to improve/fix the test suite and the compiler macro. See the ChangeLog for several other people who helped with bug reports or patches.

Thanks to the guys at "Café Olé" in Hamburg where I wrote most of the code and thanks to my wife for lending me her PowerBook to test CL-PPCRE with MCL and OpenMCL.

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