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Extended Regex Guide

Overview

BH uses Python's Re regular expression engine, but it also adds some additional back references to aid in the creation of bracket patterns. This is done with a custom wrapper called Backrefs that was originally written for RegReplace.

Backrefs was written to add various additional back references that are known to some regex engines, but not to Python's Re. Backrefs adds: \p, \P, \u, \U, \l, \L, \Q or \E (though \u and \U are replaced with \c and \C).

You can read more about Backrefs' features in Backrefs' documentation.

Getting the Latest Backrefs

It is not always clear when Package Control updates dependencies. So to force dependency updates, you can run Package Control's Satisfy Dependencies command which will update to the latest release.

Using Backrefs in BracketHighlighter Plugins

You can import Backrefs into a bh_plugin:

from backrefs as bre

Backrefs does provide a wrapper for all of Re's normal functions such as match, sub, etc., but it is recommended to pre-compile your search patterns and your replace patterns for the best performance; especially if you plan on reusing the same pattern multiple times. As Re does cache a certain amount of the non-compiled calls, you will be spared from some of the performance hit, but Backrefs does not cache the pre-processing of search and replace patterns.

To use pre-compiled functions, you compile the search pattern with compile_search. If you want to take advantage of replace Backrefs, you need to compile the replace pattern as well. Notice the compiled pattern is fed into the replace pattern; you can feed the replace compiler the string representation of the search pattern as well, but the compiled pattern will be faster and is the recommended way.

pattern = bre.compile_search(r'somepattern', flags)
replace = bre.compile_replace(pattern, r'\1 some replace pattern')

Then you can use the complied search pattern and replace

text = pattern.sub(replace, r'sometext')

or

m = pattern.match(r'sometext')
if m:
    text = replace(m)  # similar to m.expand(template)

To use the non-compiled search/replace functions, you call them just them as you would in Re; the names are the same. Methods like sub and subn will compile the replace pattern on the fly if given a string.

for m in bre.finditer(r'somepattern', 'some text', bre.UNICODE | bre.DOTALL):
    # do something

If you want to replace without compiling, you can use the expand method.

m = bre.match(r'sometext')
if m:
    text = bre.expand(m, r'replace pattern')

Last update: August 11, 2020