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PCRE(3)			   Library Functions Manual		       PCRE(3)

       PCRE - Perl-compatible regular expressions (original API)

       This  document relates to PCRE releases that use	the original API, with
       library names libpcre, libpcre16, and libpcre32.	January	2015  saw  the
       first release of	a new API, known as PCRE2, with	release	numbers	start-
       ing  at	10.00  and  library   names   libpcre2-8,   libpcre2-16,   and
       libpcre2-32. The	old libraries (now called PCRE1) are still being main-
       tained for bug fixes,  but  there  will	be  no	new  development.  New
       projects	are advised to use the new PCRE2 libraries.

       The  PCRE  library is a set of functions	that implement regular expres-
       sion pattern matching using the same syntax and semantics as Perl, with
       just  a few differences.	Some features that appeared in Python and PCRE
       before they appeared in Perl are	also available using the  Python  syn-
       tax,  there  is	some  support for one or two .NET and Oniguruma	syntax
       items, and there	is an option for requesting some  minor	 changes  that
       give better JavaScript compatibility.

       Starting	with release 8.30, it is possible to compile two separate PCRE
       libraries: the original,	which supports 8-bit  character	 strings  (in-
       cluding UTF-8 strings), and a second library that supports 16-bit char-
       acter strings (including	UTF-16 strings). The build process allows  ei-
       ther  one  or  both  to be built. The majority of the work to make this
       possible	was done by Zoltan Herczeg.

       Starting	with release 8.32 it is	possible to compile a  third  separate
       PCRE  library  that supports 32-bit character strings (including	UTF-32
       strings). The build process allows any combination of the 8-,  16-  and
       32-bit  libraries. The work to make this	possible was done by Christian

       The three libraries contain identical sets of  functions,  except  that
       the  names  in  the 16-bit library start	with pcre16_ instead of	pcre_,
       and the names in	the 32-bit  library  start  with  pcre32_  instead  of
       pcre_.  To avoid	over-complication and reduce the documentation mainte-
       nance load, most	of the documentation describes the 8-bit library, with
       the  differences	 for  the  16-bit and 32-bit libraries described sepa-
       rately in the pcre16 and	 pcre32	 pages.	 References  to	 functions  or
       structures  of  the  form  pcre[16|32]_xxx  should  be  read as meaning
       "pcre_xxx when using the	 8-bit	library,  pcre16_xxx  when  using  the
       16-bit library, or pcre32_xxx when using	the 32-bit library".

       The  current implementation of PCRE corresponds approximately with Perl
       5.12, including support for UTF-8/16/32	encoded	 strings  and  Unicode
       general	category  properties. However, UTF-8/16/32 and Unicode support
       has to be explicitly enabled; it	is not the default. The	Unicode	tables
       correspond to Unicode release 6.3.0.

       In  addition to the Perl-compatible matching function, PCRE contains an
       alternative function that matches the same compiled patterns in a  dif-
       ferent way. In certain circumstances, the alternative function has some
       advantages.  For	a discussion of	the two	matching algorithms,  see  the
       pcrematching page.

       PCRE  is	 written  in C and released as a C library. A number of	people
       have written wrappers and interfaces of various kinds.  In  particular,
       Google  Inc.   have  provided a comprehensive C++ wrapper for the 8-bit
       library.	This is	now included as	part of	 the  PCRE  distribution.  The
       pcrecpp	page  has  details of this interface. Other people's contribu-
       tions can be found in the Contrib directory at the  primary  FTP	 site,
       which is:

       Details	of  exactly which Perl regular expression features are and are
       not supported by	PCRE are given in separate documents. See the pcrepat-
       tern  and pcrecompat pages. There is a syntax summary in	the pcresyntax

       Some features of	PCRE can be included, excluded,	or  changed  when  the
       library	is  built.  The	pcre_config() function makes it	possible for a
       client to discover which	features are  available.  The  features	 them-
       selves  are described in	the pcrebuild page. Documentation about	build-
       ing PCRE	for various operating systems can be found in the  README  and
       NON-AUTOTOOLS_BUILD files in the	source distribution.

       The  libraries contains a number	of undocumented	internal functions and
       data tables that	are used by more than one  of  the  exported  external
       functions,  but	which  are  not	 intended for use by external callers.
       Their names all begin with "_pcre_" or "_pcre16_" or "_pcre32_",	 which
       hopefully  will	not provoke any	name clashes. In some environments, it
       is possible to control which  external  symbols	are  exported  when  a
       shared  library	is  built, and in these	cases the undocumented symbols
       are not exported.

       If you are using	PCRE in	a non-UTF application that  permits  users  to
       supply  arbitrary  patterns  for	 compilation, you should be aware of a
       feature that allows users to turn on UTF	support	from within a pattern,
       provided	 that  PCRE  was built with UTF	support. For example, an 8-bit
       pattern that begins with	"(*UTF8)" or "(*UTF)"  turns  on  UTF-8	 mode,
       which  interprets  patterns and subjects	as strings of UTF-8 characters
       instead of individual 8-bit characters.	This causes both  the  pattern
       and any data against which it is	matched	to be checked for UTF-8	valid-
       ity. If the data	string is very long, such a  check  might  use	suffi-
       ciently	many  resources	 as  to	cause your application to lose perfor-

       One  way	 of  guarding  against	this  possibility  is	to   use   the
       pcre_fullinfo()	function  to  check the	compiled pattern's options for
       UTF.  Alternatively, from release 8.33, you can set the	PCRE_NEVER_UTF
       option  at  compile time. This causes a compile time error if a pattern
       contains	a UTF-setting sequence.

       If your application is one that supports	UTF, be	 aware	that  validity
       checking	 can  take time. If the	same data string is to be matched many
       times, you can use the PCRE_NO_UTF[8|16|32]_CHECK option	for the	second
       and subsequent matches to save redundant	checks.

       Another	way  that  performance can be hit is by	running	a pattern that
       has a very large	search tree against a string that  will	 never	match.
       Nested  unlimited  repeats in a pattern are a common example. PCRE pro-
       vides some protection against this: see the PCRE_EXTRA_MATCH_LIMIT fea-
       ture in the pcreapi page.

       The  user  documentation	 for PCRE comprises a number of	different sec-
       tions. In the "man" format, each	of these is a separate "man page".  In
       the  HTML  format, each is a separate page, linked from the index page.
       In the plain text format, the descriptions of the pcregrep and pcretest
       programs	 are  in  files	 called	pcregrep.txt and pcretest.txt, respec-
       tively. The remaining sections, except for the pcredemo section	(which
       is  a  program  listing),  are  concatenated  in	 pcre.txt, for ease of
       searching. The sections are as follows:

	 pcre		   this	document
	 pcre-config	   show	PCRE installation configuration	information
	 pcre16		   details of the 16-bit library
	 pcre32		   details of the 32-bit library
	 pcreapi	   details of PCRE's native C API
	 pcrebuild	   building PCRE
	 pcrecallout	   details of the callout feature
	 pcrecompat	   discussion of Perl compatibility
	 pcrecpp	   details of the C++ wrapper for the 8-bit library
	 pcredemo	   a demonstration C program that uses PCRE
	 pcregrep	   description of the pcregrep command (8-bit only)
	 pcrejit	   discussion of the just-in-time optimization support
	 pcrelimits	   details of size and other limits
	 pcrematching	   discussion of the two matching algorithms
	 pcrepartial	   details of the partial matching facility
	 pcrepattern	   syntax and semantics	of supported
			     regular expressions
	 pcreperform	   discussion of performance issues
	 pcreposix	   the POSIX-compatible	C API for the 8-bit library
	 pcreprecompile	   details of saving and re-using precompiled patterns
	 pcresample	   discussion of the pcredemo program
	 pcrestack	   discussion of stack usage
	 pcresyntax	   quick syntax	reference
	 pcretest	   description of the pcretest testing command
	 pcreunicode	   discussion of Unicode and UTF-8/16/32 support

       In the "man" and	HTML formats, there is also a short page  for  each  C
       library function, listing its arguments and results.

       Philip Hazel
       University Computing Service
       Cambridge CB2 3QH, England.

       Putting	an actual email	address	here seems to have been	a spam magnet,
       so I've taken it	away. If you want to email me, use  my	two  initials,
       followed	by the two digits 10, at the domain

       Last updated: 10	February 2015
       Copyright (c) 1997-2015 University of Cambridge.

PCRE 8.37		       10 February 2015			       PCRE(3)


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