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Custom Function Database - Part 11 - RegEx Parsing

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FileMaker Magazine

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With FileMaker’s PatternCount(), Left(), Right() and Middle() functions you can certainly extract a lot of data. The functions, however, are severely limited when it comes to matching variable patterns of data.

That’s where, in the world of programming, Regular Expressions, or RegEx for short, is SUPER handy! It’s used in pretty much EVERY computing language and I don’t personally know a professional developer who can develop without it. It’s been available since the 1950’s and it’s a worthwhile tool to know for sure.

Recently, I personally reduced a complex FileMaker file from three tables and close to twenty dedicated scripts, all for parsing some data, down to one table and two scripts. Trust me, it was a crazy process where a full document of text was imported, line by line, into a FileMaker table, just so a loop could be used to walk across the data multiple times. Talk about extra network traffic just to process some data!

It was MUCH easier to simply use a RegEx pattern and directly extract the data desired and be done with it. Of course, the developer who preceded me obviously didn’t know RegEx and it’s why I’m providing this video for you. Learn it, use it and get the job done quicker when it’s the right tool for the job.

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