1.6. Personal Glimpses
The doubled -word task at the start of this chapter might seem daunting, yet regular expressions are so powerful that we could solve much of the problem with a tool as limited as egrep , right here in the first chapter. I'd like to fill this chapter with flashy examples, but because I've concentrated on the solid foundation for the later chapters, I fear that someone completely new to regular expressions might read this chapter, complete with all the warnings and cautions and rules and such, and feel "why bother?"
My brothers were once teaching some friends how to play schaffkopf , a card game that's been in my family for generations. It is much more exciting than it appears at first glance, but has a rather steep learning curve. After about half an hour , my sister-in-law Liz, normally the quintessence of patience, got frustrated with the seemingly complex rules and said "Can't we just play rummy?" Yet, as it turned out, they all ended up playing late into the night, including Liz. Once they were able to get over the initial hump of the learning curve, a first-hand taste of the excitement was all it took to hook them. My brothers knew it would, but it took some time and work to get to the point where Liz and the others new to the game could appreciate what they were getting into.
It might take some time to become acclimated to regular expressions, so until you get a real taste of the excitement by using them to solve your problems, it might all feel just a bit too academic. If so, I hope you will resist the desire to "play rummy." Once you understand the power that regular expressions provide, the small amount of work spent learning them will feel trivial indeed.