Extracting primitive types

When working with regular expressions, it’s fairly common to want to extract matches and turn them into useful types - a depressingly recurrent scenario being extracting simple integers from strings.

Let’s imagine that we get the following string and are interested in the integers between brackets:

val input = "lorem ipsum [123] dolor si amet [456] DO NOT MATCH THIS 789."

First attempt

The first, naive approach would to simply match digits and turn matches into ints. This can be achieved with a trivial regular expression:

import kantan.regex.implicits._

val digits = rx"\d+"

Note the way the regular expression was declared: the rx bit lets the compiler know that the following string literal is a regular expression and should be validated. Had our expression been invalid, it would have been detected at compile time.

And we can now simply call the evalRegex method that enriches strings:

val results = input.evalRegex[Int](digits)
// results: Iterator[kantan.regex.package.DecodeResult[Int]] = empty iterator

results.foreach(println _)
// Right(123)
// Right(456)
// Right(789)

There are a few important things happening here. First, note the type parameter to evalRegex: this tells kantan.regex how to interpret each match. In our case, we want ints.

Second, results is an Iterator: regular expressions are evaluated lazily.

Lastly, even though we requested results of type Int, we got Success[Int] values instead. This makes regular expression evaluation safe: errors are wrapped in a failure value rather than turned into exceptions. Should you not really care about safety, you can use unsafeEvalRegex and get raw ints.

Improved solution using groups

Looking at the results however, we see that we didn’t really achieve what we set out to do: 789 should not have been matched, but was. In order to solve this, we need to change our regular expression to something more precise, such as:

val regex = rx"\[(\d+)\]"
// regex: java.util.regex.Pattern = \[(\d+)\]

The problem here is that matches of this expression are not valid ints - they are surrounded by brackets. This is where groups come in handy: we’ve declared our regular expression in such a way that for each match, the first group will be the matched digits without the brackets. There’s a version of evalRegex that takes the index of the group from which to extract data:

input.evalRegex[Int](regex, 1).foreach(println _)
// Right(123)
// Right(456)

Adding support to new types

In order to add support for types that aren’t supported by default, you need only put an implicit value of GroupDecoder in scope. Let’s do so, for example, for Joda DateTime:

import kantan.regex._
import org.joda.time.DateTime
import org.joda.time.format.ISODateTimeFormat

implicit val jodaDateTime: GroupDecoder[DateTime] = {
  val format = ISODateTimeFormat.date()

  // Summon an existing GroupDecoder[String] instance and modifies its behaviour,
  // rather than build a new decoder from scratch.
  GroupDecoder[String].emap(s => DecodeResult(format.parseDateTime(s)))

Here’s an example of a string with a valid ISO date:

val isoInput = "Nothing of note happened on 2009-01-06"

And we can now decode this easily:

isoInput.evalRegex[DateTime](rx"\d\d\d\d-\d\d-\d\d").foreach(println _)
// Right(2009-01-06T00:00:00.000+01:00)

Other tutorials: