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Regular expressions - findall or split?

Posted by enquirer (enquirer), 5 April 2006
I want to extract useful information from within a string and discard the remainder  in my Python classes - should I use findall, split, or something else?

Posted by admin (Graham Ellis), 5 April 2006
Python's findall and split work from opposite "ends" of the problem ... findall returns everything that matches a pattern within a string, whereas split locates all the strings you want to eliminate and returns the remaining parts.

In general, if you want to pick out just a few elements (or a small proportion) of the line, findall will do you the best job, but if you want to throw away just a few separators and delimiters, the you'll probably find that split will be the better choice.

A similar thing applies to other languages - in Perl, for example, you would be best to use split if you wanted to keep most of the data and throw away separators, but an =~ match is you were looking to cherry pick.

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