Regular expression to exclude HTML tags from text replacement

Posted on 2004-09-28
Last Modified: 2011-09-20
i need to create a regular expression (in Java) to replace sections of text that are NOT in <span> HTML tags. basically i am replacing a set of terms with a block of text inside span tags, but i don't want the terms inside those blocks of text to be matched as well. so i only want to replace terms that aren't inside <span> tags.

My regular expression so far is:

((<span.*/span>)*^(<span)) ($term)

where $term is the term that i want to replace. basically the regular expression needs to say "search for all instances of $term that are not between an open and end <span> tag (and replace with the defined text)".

please ask if i haven't explained this adequately and i can explain the situation more clearly.

any help would be appreciated,


p.s. i'm not all that good at Regular Expressions, so please excuse the one above ;)
Question by:staffordvaughan
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LVL 86

Accepted Solution

CEHJ earned 250 total points
ID: 12177540
Regular expressions are not particularly good for *not* matching things. What i'd suggest is the something like the following:

final String RE_ANY_TAG = "(<[A-Za-z\\-]+>)([^<]+)(<[/A-Za-z\\-]+>)";

then check the first group does *not* contain "<span>"


Author Comment

ID: 12177576
thanks for your response, but can you be more specific please?
LVL 86

Expert Comment

ID: 12177623
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Author Comment

ID: 12187223
the question is still open, i would like for someone who is good at regular expressions to actually post the regular expression solution if possible. i'm familiar with regular expressions in general, but the actual solution to this question is eluding me.

or perhaps suggest a more appropriate category to post this question on? i could not find a better one than this.

LVL 86

Expert Comment

ID: 12188488
>>to actually post the regular expression solution if possible

That's quite a bit of work! What are talking about specifically here:

basically i am replacing a set of terms with a block of text inside span tags, but i don't want the terms inside those blocks of text to be matched as well. so i only want to replace terms that aren't inside <span> tags.

Author Comment

ID: 12400018
i accepted the first response as the answer even though it wasn't really what i was after. as you say though, the specific regular expression is probably a lot of work and my explanation might not have been sufficient. thanks for your help anyway, as it turned out i used a different (non regular expression) method for doing the task because i just couldn't work out the regular expression.


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