PHP regular expression

gplana
gplana used Ask the Experts™
on
Hi.

I'm trying to check if a string has a list of numbers separed by commas. Any element separed by comma could be also an asterisk (*) instead of a number.

Here some examples of valid expressions:
123,456,23
123,*,23
345
*
*,123,*,456

And some non-valid expressions:
*,a,*
*,123,

I'm trying this regular expression:
/[0-9|\*](,([0-9]|\*)*/

I tested it on this page: https://es.functions-online.com/preg_match.html
however it seems it always return 1. Isn't preg_match the correct function to call for this purpose? What I'm doing wrong?

Thank you.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
REGEX always drives me nuts.  I figure it out for the thing I'm working on and then I forget most of it.  So the next time, I go back to this page http://php.net/manual/en/function.preg-match.php and figure it out again.  Check out the PCRE link at the bottom of the page also.
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2015

Commented:
Try:

([0-9]+|\*)(,([0-9]+|\*))*

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It appears that only the first part of your pattern is broken. You're trying to put the alternation inside of the character class (i.e. the square brackets).
Thanks kaufmed, but I tryied your expression (just surrounding it by / as delimiter character) on the link https://es.functions-online.com/preg_match.html and trying with this text "*,121,a" return a result of 1. It seems like it returns a result of 1 always.
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I'm leaving third and fourth parameters empty. Is that ok?
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2015
Commented:
You'll need to include start of string ( ^ ) and end of string ( $ ) anchors, then:

/^([0-9]+|\*)(,([0-9]+|\*))*$/

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Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
Sometimes it's easier to get it all right if you break it down into components and not try to do it all with a single regular expression.  Here's my take on the problem.
http://iconoun.com/demo/temp_gplana.php

<?php // demo/temp_glpana.php
error_reporting(E_ALL);
echo '<pre>';

// SEE http://www.experts-exchange.com/Programming/Languages/Scripting/PHP/Q_28564006.html

// TEST CASES
$tests = array
( '123,456,23'
, '123,*,23'
. '345'
, '*'
, '*,123,*,456'

, '*,a,*'
, '*,123,'
)
;

// RUN THE TEST CASES
foreach ($tests as $test)
{
    echo PHP_EOL . htmlentities($test);
    if (valid_substrings($test)) echo ' VALID';
        else echo ' INVALID';
}


// A FUNCTION TO TEST THE SUBSTRINGS
function valid_substrings($str)
{
    // A REGULAR EXPRESSION TO DISALLOW ANYTHING BUT NUMBERS OR THE ASTERISK
    $rgx
    = '#'       // REGEX DELIMITER
    . '^'       // AT START OF STRING
    . '['       // START CHARACTER CLASS
    . '^'       // NEGATION - MATCH ANYTHING NOT THESE CHARACTERS
    . '0-9'     // NUMBERS
    . '\*'      // ESCAPED ASTERISK
    . ']'       // ENDOF CHARACTER CLASS
    . '$'       // AT ENDOF STRING
    . '#'       // REGEX DELIMITER
    ;

    // BREAK ON COMMAS AND TEST EACH SUBSTRING
    $subs = explode(',', $str);
    foreach ($subs as $sub)
    {
        if (empty($sub))            return FALSE;
        if (preg_match($rgx, $sub)) return FALSE;
    }
    return TRUE;
}

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Excellent. This was my problem: I needed an start of string and an end of string. Thank you for teaching me in that.

Regards.

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