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Regex Tidier


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This is an unusually easy project. To make it even easier, you could write it as a plug-in for Quoter so you wouldn’t even have to write any UI.

You take a bare regex (search or replace have to be handled slightly differently) and here are some ideas you might use to extend you tidier. Be careful you don’t sacrifice readability on the altar of terseness:

  1. Remove any quoting \ that is not strictly necessary.
  2. Put […] lists in canonical order.
  3. Inside […] collapse any runs of 4 or longer e.g. #$%&#-&
  4. Inside […] expand runs of 1 to 3 characters, e.g. #-%#$%
  5. Convert \s*\s*\s*
  6. Alphabetise (…|…|…) lists.
  7. Remove (?:…) that are not doing anything.
  8. Use negative char lists with ^ when it would shorten the list.
  9. Allow you to copy the tidied result to the clip board as a raw string, a Java String or a CVS (Concurrent Versions System) string.

To make this more challenging you might add some of the Regex Proofreader features.

Programmers have very definite ideas about what sort of tidies they want applied. You will need to make that configurable.

Funduc Search Replace
Regex Composer
Regex Debugger
Regex Proofreader

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