Today I Learned

A Hashrocket project

Match across lines with Elixir Regex `dotall` (s)

Elixir Regex is PCRE compliant and Ruby Regex isn’t in at least one specific way. The m (multiline) flag behaves differently in Elixir and Ruby.

Without any modifiers, Regex does not match across new lines:

iex> Regex.scan( ~r/.*/, "a\nb")
[["a"], [""], ["b"], [""]]
iex> Regex.scan( ~r/.*/, "ab")
[["ab"], [""]]

With the m (multiline) modifier, Regex will match the beginning of each line when using the ^ char.

iex> Regex.scan( ~r/.*/m, "a\nb")
[["a"], [""], ["b"], [""]]
iex> Regex.scan( ~r/^.*/, "a\nb")
[["a"]]
iex> Regex.scan( ~r/^.*/m, "a\nb")
[["a"], ["b"]]

The s (dotall) modifier is the right way in Elixir to match across newlines.

iex> Regex.scan( ~r/.*/s, "a\nb")
[["a\nb"], [""]]
iex> Regex.scan( ~r/^.*/s, "a\nb")
[["a\nb"]]

In ruby, you can match across lines with the m (modifier) and the s is ignored.

irb> "a\nb".scan(/.*/)
=> ["a", "", "b", ""]
irb> "a\nb".scan(/.*/m)
=> ["a\nb", ""]
irb> "a\nb".scan(/.*/s)
=> ["a", "", "b", ""]

Read about the history of dotall here

Looking for help? Elixir is quickly gaining momentum for web applications that need concurrency, performance, and the ability to connect to many different clients. The developers at Hashrocket are learning along with the rest of the development community that Elixir and Phoenix are viable Rails alternatives for the right application. Check out the source code for Today I Learned, written in Elixir, and contact us if you need help with your Elixir project.