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Issue 14.5 ('Keyboard Shortcuts')
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Issue: 14.5 (September/October 2016)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,548
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 14502
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When I first heard of ReText, I thought it sounded too similar to RegExRx (reviewed xDev 11.4). Both are programs that help you work with regular expressions.

But the purposes behind each are very different. RegExRx is terrific for figuring out your Regex patterns. It has tools to help you create the pattern and its "instant results" system quickly shows you if the pattern is working the way you expect. It also allows you to extract the pattern for use in other apps or programming languages.

ReText is more for reusing regular expressions that you've already figured out. It has a handy list of actions for doing quick replacements. You can easily add new ones and create groups of actions. You can re-arrange the order of actions by dragging them.

What's neat is that you can enable an action by simply clicking a checkbox next to each. This allows you to combine multiple actions and means that your actions can be much simpler (each does one thing, such as marking all email addresses in a text file or removing HTML tags). You do need to keep in mind the order of the actions as they happen in sequence, so one might affect another.

It's easy to add new actions, but the text fields for typing in a pattern and replacement are far too tiny, since patterns can get quite complicated. (For this reason, and that ReText does not give you any assistance in creating the pattern, I create patterns in RegExRx and then paste them into ReText.)

Another issue is that some of the demo regex actions that are included with the program are not well-done. For instance, there's a "Replace HEX" action that changes hex values to 00—but it replaces EC in the middle of words, too. Similarly, the "Replace All URLs" action also replaces the domain name in email addresses (so email@email.com becomes email@http://www.test.com). In both cases, a smarter regex would fix these issues.

Despite a few rough edges, the program is extremely useful and handy, especially if you find yourself using the same regex actions over and over (while working on HTML or XML or other text files).

End of article.