Nerdy Tuesdays: GREP

by May 15, 2012Tech2 comments

So. I had a huge list of books that was to go up on a website I designed. The list included ISBNs, and I wanted to make every ISBN a link containing my Amazon affiliate code.

The list included the ISBNs in a convenient standard format: “ISBN 1234567890123.” All the entries looked something like this:

Dragonfly Books, 2008, c1996. LCCN 96012111. pbk., ISBN 9780375844515, $7.99. 1 vol. (unpaged) : col. Ill. ; 28 cm. LCCN 96012111, Grades 2-4.

So I did a little GREP homework and used TextWrangler to do the following:


What’s so neat about GREP is that I was able to place the ISBN in two places in the “Replace” box (the “\1” in the code): in the URL and in the visible text. Thanks, BBEdit GREP Tutorial.

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  1. David

    I don’t want to be too pedantic, but technically “grep” is the UNIX command line tool for searching. What you’re actually using is regular expressions for searching *and* replacing. I actually fault TW for using the wrong terminology. I think they did it to imply the syntax is similar to grep, since grep does use regular expressions.

    In any event, searching for “regular expressions” on Google will probably give you some more helpful information. It’s also the phrase that most other editors use.

    Depending on which regular expressions dialect TW is using (traditional UNIX? PCRE?), you might find some more good information here:

    • Mark L Ward Jr

      Thanks! Insight from a real pro (aka true nerd!)!