RegExr v2: Build, Test, & Learn RegEx

RegExr is exactly six years old today. Built in Flex and AS3, it was a largely accidental outcome of exploring a few technical concepts I was interested in at the time (tokenizers/lexers, advanced text interactions, regular expressions).

RegExr v1 circa 2008

I thought the end result might be useful to others struggling to learn or work with RegEx, so I released it online. Its popularity took me by surprise, with around 10M hits and 150K patterns saved to date. This is despite being essentially abandoned since 2008.

I’m happy to announce that the neglect is finally ending, with today’s release of RegExr v2. Rebuilt from scratch in HTML/JS, and (hopefully) improved in every way. I’d like to believe that RegExr v2 is the best way to learn, build and test RegEx online today.

RegExr v2

Key features:

  • clean, modern design
  • video tutorial
  • expression syntax coloring
  • underlines expression errors in red
  • contextual help for all regex tokens and errors on rollover
  • updates matches as you type
  • support for testing substitution/replace
  • full reference of all JS RegEx tokens, with loadable examples
  • searchable database of community submitted patterns
  • drag and drop text files to load their content
  • save and share patterns with others via direct links
  • undo/redo
     

I also dug through over 240 comments on the original blog post, and implemented a ton of suggestions:

  • larger monospaced text and support for browser zoom (my eyes are older, my monitors are larger, and 10pt font just doesn’t seem so cool now)
  • vastly improved tokenizer, that is (hopefully) 100% accurate to JS RegExp standards
  • improved documentation, now with examples
  • support for pasting full expressions (including flags)
  • save includes your sample and substitution text
     

Now that it’s released, we’re going to try not to let it stagnate again. The first order of business is to clean up the code and commit it to the RegExr GitHub repo, so that it becomes a living project with community support.

We’re also going to try to clean up the existing community patterns – likely scrubbing any that now have errors (due to differences in AS3 and JS for example).

Following that, I’m going to be taking a look at different options for wrapping it in a desktop installer, so you can run it offline and save your favourites locally (input on this is welcome). I’d also love to make it usable on mobile devices, not because I think there’s a huge demand for testing regular expressions on mobile phones, but as a challenge to see if it can be done well – I think the “click to insert” feature of the reference library could work really well.

I’m also planning to write up a blog post exploring some of the technical challenges and decisions that we made while building this.

If you enjoy using RegExr, you can help out by tweeting, facebooking, gPlussing, blogging, or otherwise sharing/linking to it so others can find it. Version 1 disappeared almost completely from Google a few months ago (I believe they downgraded pages with only Flash content), and I’d really like it to recover in the rankings.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the new version of RegExr, and any feedback on how to make it even better.

Bardbarian on Steam – coming soon

Thanks to everyone that has played and supported Bardbarian so far! It has been amazing to see what the Treefortress guys have come up with, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.

An update has been posted on the Steam Community about what players can expect from Bardbarian once it arrives. Check it out, and be sure to leave your thoughts.

Bardbarian

If you haven’t checked out Bardbarian on iOS, yet – you can download it in the app store. Keep an eye here, or on the Treefortress blog for more Bard-related announcements in the coming months.

WebGL Support in EaselJS + Mozilla Sponsors CreateJS

We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Mozilla in joining Adobe, Microsoft, and AOL to the roster of CreateJS sponsors!

We’ve been working with the Firefox OS team to ensure our libraries are well-supported and valuable tools for app and game creation on Firefox OS.

The first big announcement as a result of this collaboration, is WebGL Support for EaselJS (currently in public beta on GitHub), which is supported in both the browser and application contexts of Firefox OS (as well as other WebGL-enabled browsers). In our tests, we’ve managed to to draw a subset of 2D content up to 50x faster than is currently possible on the Canvas 2D Context. You can learn more about our WebGL implementation on the Mozilla Hacks or CreateJS blogs.

Be sure to let us know what you think in the EaselJS Community forum.

Welcome Mozilla, and a huge thank-you to all our amazing sponsors!

Bardbarian Launches on iOS!

I’m very excited that our first big TreeFortress game, Bardbarian, has launched on the iOS App Store! Bardbarian offers a unique gameplay style (think tower defence merged with a top down shooter), and some really fantastic artwork.

Bardbarian

Check out screenshots & gameplay videos on the Bardbarian game site, or check it out on the App Store.

Bardbarian has also been greenlit on Steam, and will be coming to PC, Android, and other platforms soon.

Embedding JS Script Tags in WordPress Posts

When you include javascript in a WordPress post, WP automatically applies formatting to the script tag’s contents, causing script errors. This has led to a large number of workarounds, including: plugins, using custom fields, including every script as a separate JS file, and stripping empty lines from the script (to prevent WP from injecting paragraph tags).

I wanted a solution that would let me quickly inject JS directly into my post content, and wouldn’t require any special prep or have dependencies on third party plugins. After unsuccessfully hunting the web for an answer, I came up with a simple approach that uses a pre tag to prevent WordPress from formatting my code:

<pre class="script"><script>
  // code here.
</script></pre>

Then just add the following to your site styles to prevent the pre tag from displaying:

pre.script {
  visibility: hidden;
  display: none;
}

It’s crazy simple and the script executes properly. I’m kind of shocked that I didn’t run into this approach at all in my search. It makes me worry a bit that there’s some glaring flaw with it, but so far it seems to be working great.

Hopefully this saves someone else some time and frustration.

Note: there’s a chance you may need to disable “Settings > Writing > WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically” to prevent WP from encoding characters in your code. I have it disabled normally, but in limited testing I didn’t see any problems with it enabled.

New dev update for Bardbarian!

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Over at TreeFortress we’ve put together a massive dev update for our upcoming game Bardbarian. To read all about it, check out the TreeFortress blog!

If you’re not familiar, Bardbarian is an iOS/Android game, built with Adobe AIR and the Starling Framework, and is slated for a Spring/Summer release in 2013. TreeFortress is a seperate division of gskinner, focused solely on creating our own apps and games. Follow them directly if you’re interested!