Differences from POSIX regex

As of PHP 5.3.0, the POSIX Regex extension is deprecated. There are a number of differences between POSIX regex and PCRE regex. This page lists the most notable ones that are necessary to know when converting to PCRE.

  1. The PCRE functions require that the pattern is enclosed by delimiters.
  2. Unlike POSIX, the PCRE extension does not have dedicated functions for case-insensitive matching. Instead, this is supported using the i (PCRE_CASELESS) pattern modifier. Other pattern modifiers are also available for changing the matching strategy.
  3. The POSIX functions find the longest of the leftmost match, but PCRE stops on the first valid match. If the string doesn't match at all it makes no difference, but if it matches it may have dramatic effects on both the resulting match and the matching speed. To illustrate this difference, consider the following example from "Mastering Regular Expressions" by Jeffrey Friedl. Using the pattern one(self)?(selfsufficient)? on the string oneselfsufficient with PCRE will result in matching oneself, but using POSIX the result will be the full string oneselfsufficient. Both (sub)strings match the original string, but POSIX requires that the longest be the result.
  4. The POSIX definition of a "character class" differs from that of PCRE. Simple bracket expressions to match a set of explicit characters are supported in the form of PCRE character classes but POSIX collating elements, character classes and character equivalents are not supported. Supplying an expression with a character class that both starts and ends with :, . or = characters to PCRE is interpreted as an attempt to use one of these unsupported features and causes a compilation error.

Function replacements
ereg_replace() preg_replace()
ereg() preg_match()
eregi_replace() preg_replace()
eregi() preg_match()
split() preg_split()
spliti() preg_split()
sql_regcase() No equivalent

add a note add a note

User Contributed Notes 2 notes

cdragon at dracoventions dot com
9 years ago
In regards to the previous comment that says "there are several other differences including different meaning for the symbols  ( [ different rules for which symbols need escaping", as far as I can tell from reading
there are absolutely no "other differences" except in what the man page calls "Obsolete  ("basic'')  regular  expressions".  However, PHP doesn't appear to use the obsolete form of expressions in its POSIX functions.

PCRE even supports all of the POSIX named character classes such as [:space:].
jasen at treshna dot com
11 years ago
there are several other differences

including different meaning for the symbols  ( [
different rules for which symbols need escaping (they can't be the same as both standard posix and extended posix)

you should read the full documentation for PCRE before chaging any posix regex to use pcre.
To Top