Regexp::NamedCaptures - Saves capture results to your own variables


Version 0.04


 use Regexp::NamedCaptures;
 my ( $name, $title, $first, $last );
 /(?<\$name>(?<\$title>Mr\.|Ms\.) (?<\$first>\w+) (?<\$last>\w+))/;
 # is the same as
 my ( $name, $title, $first, $last )
     = /((Mr\.|Ms\.) (\w+) (\w+))/;

 # use re 'eval' when interpolating
 use Regexp::NamedCaptures;
 use re 'eval';


This highly experimental module implements named captures for perl-5.008. Perl-5.10+ has built-in named captures and you should not attempt to use this module.

When your regular expression captures something, you can have it automatically copied out to the right location. This is an improvement over normal perl because now you don't have to deal with positional captures. When your expression is complex and there are multiple or nested captures it really helps to not have to track what number you're supposed to find your data in.


I have borrowed the syntax from .Net. I'm told that each of the following forms are equivalent so I've treated them identically.

 (?< name >pattern)
 (?' name 'pattern)

name should be a a piece of valid perl code. In a normal, interpolating regular expression, you would write (?<\$something...) if you wanted to have the result copied to the $something variable. That is, perl will interpolate your variables just like it always does.

The value of name may be arbitrary perl code. It must be a valid lvalue.

pattern is a normal pattern.

The entire expression is rewritten as:

 (pattern)(?{ name = $^N })


$rewritten_regexp = convert( $original_regexp )

This function does all the work of converting a regular expression containing named capture expressions into an expression that can be used by perl. You only need this if you're going to be creating regular expressions at runtime.

 use re 'eval';
 $re = Regexp::NamedCapture::convert '(?<$var>...)'
 $re = qr/$re/

 use re 'eval';
 $re = Regexp::NamedCapture::convert "(?'\$var'...)";

use re 'eval' AND SECURITY

This module functions by inserting (?{ code }) blocks into your expression. As a security feature, perl does not allow new (?{ ... }) blocks to be compiled once BEGIN-time has passed unless the programmer specifically lifts that restriction by including the use re 'eval' pragma.

If you trust all of the expressions that you're interpolating, you can use this safely. If you are accepting regular expressions from sources you might not trust, you should not use use re 'eval'.

If you still want to use this module, see if you can push your regular expression compilation earlier.

Consider these two examples:

 use re 'eval';
 $rx = qr/(?<\$name>$expr)/;

     $rx = qr/(?<\$name>$expr)/;

The first one requires the use re 'eval' pragma because the interpolation and compilation occurs at runtime. The second does not because it interpolated and compiled the pattern at BEGIN-time. It suffers the obvious drawback that you must have the value for $expr at BEGIN-time instead of runtime.


"Joshua ben Jore" <>


\Q escapes are completed ignored. If you try to use one to prevent something that looks like a named capture from being parsed as one, it won't work.

Please report any bugs or feature requests to, or through the web interface at I will be notified, and then you'll automatically be notified of progress on your bug as I make changes.


Jeffrey Friedl's book Mastering Regular Expressions for the original inspiration. perlre for making it possible. for giving me a reason to create this. Tanktalus, Ctrl-z, and others of


Copyright 2005 Joshua ben Jore, all rights reserved.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.