One prominent feature of Swift’s upcoming iOS 16 and macOS Ventura releases is a complete re-think of regular expressions. If you haven’t seen the new APIs in use yet, the best place to get up to speed is this WWDC video. It’s the first major step forward for regular expressions in years!

We all reach for a regular expression for rough and ready string parsing, but if you’re anything like me, you end up parsing out the same types of data every time. Maybe you’re looking to pull out a number and then a date, followed by an email address or URL. Then, next time you’re just looking for an email address and a number.

You can build that kind of parsing toolkit with the new RegexBuilder APIs, but what if you didn’t need to?

I’ve been a huge fan of Soulver for so many years now that I can’t remember when I started using it, but it remains an integral part of the apps I use every day. SoulverCore has been available for a couple of years, which is the main calculation engine that powers the app. Then, on Wednesday, Zac Cohan sent across a link to his latest library SoulverStringParsing, and I couldn’t help thinking that it’d be a better fit than even the new RegexBuilder APIs for common string parsing tasks.

You should check out the README for some examples, but it maps very much onto how I was describing my use of regular expressions. Tell it that you’re looking for a couple of numbers and an email address, and it’ll figure it out. It won’t be an ideal solution if you’re looking to strictly validate the exact format of a string, but it’s going to be a fantastic way to capture a few values quickly.

I’d be less excited about this API if it hadn’t come out of an app I use daily to mix text and calculations, and it never gets the parsing wrong. The main reason I’m talking about it, though, is that I love when something makes me re-think a problem that I thought I had all figured out. That’s happened twice this year with string parsing. First, with RegexBuilder, which I still love, and now with Zac’s new library.

Note: You may have noticed that neither SoulverCore nor SoulverStringParsing have an open-source license. They are free to use in personal or private projects, and I had a quick chat with Zac about small developers using these libraries in public/small commercial projects. It sounded like he was being very generous with licensing as long as you’re not building a Soulver clone, so drop him a note if you think you’d like to use them.

Dave Verwer  




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