In a world of 4G languages, regular expressions aren't something with which developers are necessarily familiar. Regular expressions are the thing of scripts, and *nix, and vi. In the fast growing arena of XML, XPath and XQuery have all but supplanted regular expressions by necessity, and yet many XML-focused appliances support regular expressions as a mechanisms for matching and even extracting data in certain circumstances.

iRules and its parent scripting language, TCL, rely heavily on regular expressions much like other scripting languages such as PERL. While system administrators likely find this comforting, it can be daunting for developers new to regular expressions to get a handle on this strange, often unintuitive symbolic language.

So if you're a developer and find yourself in need of a good tutorial, i.e. one that doesn't tersely indicate you should RTFM(an page), check out this blog post by I'm Mike, appropriately titled "The absolute bare minimum every programmer should know about regular expressions". Mike also has some more detailed posts about regular expressions and all are a great place to start digging into the craziness that is regex.

When you've finished reading if you want to play around with some regular expressions - cause practice makes perfect - check out Regex Designer, a nice little app that not only evaluates regular expressions but lets you visually see how the matches are made. It's a great tool for learning regular expressions as well as fleshing out more complex expressions before trying it out in a live application. This one is great for beginners or experts.

Imbibing: root beer