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name Punditsdkoslkdosdkoskdo

Python extract pattern matches

Python 2.7.1 I am trying to use python regular expression to extract words inside of a pattern

I have some string that looks like this

someline abc
someother line
name my_user_name is valid
some more lines

I want to extract the word "my_user_name". I do something like

import re
s = #that big string
p = re.compile("name .* is valid", re.flags)
p.match(s) #this gives me <_sre.SRE_Match object at 0x026B6838>

How do I extract my_user_name now?

You need to capture from regex. search for the pattern, if found, retrieve the string using group(index). Assuming valid checks are performed:

>>> p = re.compile("name (.*) is valid")
>>> result = p.search(s)
>>> result
<_sre.SRE_Match object at 0x10555e738>
>>> result.group(1)     # group(1) will return the 1st capture.
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    • Kind of late, but both yes and no. group(0) returns the matched text, not the first capture group. The code comment is correct, while you seem to be confusing capture groups and matches. group(1) returns the first capture group.
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    • Your second line I think should read _ = p.search(s). I see it mentions setting the result to _ but the code doesn't reflect that. I changed to _ = p.search(s) for that second line and it works.
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    • @IanG I'm sorry, I'll update my answer. BTW, with a standard python REPL, the last result is stored in a special variable called _. It isn't valid outside anywhere else.

You can use matching groups:

p = re.compile('name (.*) is valid')


>>> import re
>>> p = re.compile('name (.*) is valid')
>>> s = """
... someline abc
... someother line
... name my_user_name is valid
... some more lines"""
>>> p.findall(s)

Here I use re.findall rather than re.search to get all instances of my_user_name. Using re.search, you'd need to get the data from the group on the match object:

>>> p.search(s)   #gives a match object or None if no match is found
<_sre.SRE_Match object at 0xf5c60>
>>> p.search(s).group() #entire string that matched
'name my_user_name is valid'
>>> p.search(s).group(1) #first group that match in the string that matched

As mentioned in the comments, you might want to make your regex non-greedy:

p = re.compile('name (.*?) is valid')

to only pick up the stuff between 'name ' and the next ' is valid' (rather than allowing your regex to pick up other ' is valid' in your group.

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    • @CalmStorm -- Which part doesn't work (I tested on python2.7.3)? The part where I use .group is exactly the same as the answer you accepted...
    • @JonClements -- You mean (.*?)? Yeah, that's possible, although not necessary unless OP us using re.DOTALL
    • yeah - re.findall('name (.*) is valid', 'name jon clements is valid is valid is valid') probably won't yield desired results...

You could use something like this:

import re
s = #that big string
# the parenthesis create a group with what was matched
# and '\w' matches only alphanumeric charactes
p = re.compile("name +(\w+) +is valid", re.flags)
# use search(), so the match doesn't have to happen 
# at the beginning of "big string"
m = p.search(s)
# search() returns a Match object with information about what was matched
if m:
    name = m.group(1)
    raise Exception('name not found')
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Maybe that's a bit shorter and easier to understand:

import re
text = '... someline abc... someother line... name my_user_name is valid.. some more lines'
>>> re.search('name (.*) is valid', text).group(1)
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You can use groups (indicated with '(' and ')') to capture parts of the string. The match object's group() method then gives you the group's contents:

>>> import re
>>> s = 'name my_user_name is valid'
>>> match = re.search('name (.*) is valid', s)
>>> match.group(0)  # the entire match
'name my_user_name is valid'
>>> match.group(1)  # the first parenthesized subgroup

In Python 3.6+ you can also index into a match object instead of using group():

>>> match[0]  # the entire match 
'name my_user_name is valid'
>>> match[1]  # the first parenthesized subgroup
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Here's a way to do it without using groups (Python 3.6 or above):

>>> re.search('2\d\d\d[01]\d[0-3]\d', 'report_20191207.xml')[0]
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You can also use a capture group (?P<user>pattern) and access the group like a dictionary match['user'].

string = '''someline abc\n
            someother line\n
            name my_user_name is valid\n
            some more lines\n'''

pattern = r'name (?P<user>.*) is valid'
matches = re.search(pattern, str(string), re.DOTALL)

# my_user_name
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It seems like you're actually trying to extract a name vice simply find a match. If this is the case, having span indexes for your match is helpful and I'd recommend using re.finditer. As a shortcut, you know the name part of your regex is length 5 and the is valid is length 9, so you can slice the matching text to extract the name.

Note - In your example, it looks like s is string with line breaks, so that's what's assumed below.

## covert s to list of strings separated by line:
s2 = s.splitlines()

## find matches by line: 
for i, j in enumerate(s2):
    matches = re.finditer("name (.*) is valid", j)
    ## ignore lines without a match
    if matches:
        ## loop through match group elements
        for k in matches:
            ## get text
            match_txt = k.group(0)
            ## get line span
            match_span = k.span(0)
            ## extract username
            my_user_name = match_txt[5:-9]
            ## compare with original text
            print(f'Extracted Username: {my_user_name} - found on line {i}')
            print('Match Text:', match_txt)
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