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To paraphrase the wise sage Adobe Wan Kenobi, learning GREP is a journey, not a destination. Fortunately, there are many ways to learn more about GREP and my favorite way is to surf right on over to InDesignSecrets.com/grep and see what's there. The GREP page of InDesignSecrets.com lists a whole bunch of resources that you are going to want to know about, like books and websites, other pages within InDesignSecrets that offer fun tricks and so on. So check that out. It also links to other pages on the web that you should know about.
For example, it links right to the search using GREP expression page at adobe.com. This is part of InDesign's built-in help system and there are a lot of cool things here. It's a great resource while you are trying to learn GREP in InDesign. It also links to some cool utilities like this GrepGrokker tool, which is a Flash app created by rorohiko. It's also called lightningbrain.com and this is a really cool little tool that will let you learn GREP very quickly. Another place that you should definitely know about is this website called Regular-Expressions.info. Lots and lots of cool things about regular expressions. GREP is the 'general regular expression parser' and that's what regular expressions is all about. And finally I want to point out that I link right to this page and one other site that InDesignSecrets links to is this RegExr page at gskinner.com. This is a really cool Flash or Flex app that this guy built and it runs inside your web browser. You can also get an Air version that you can run off your desktop.
But this is very cool because it lets you run GREP right inside your browser to learn about it and test it. For example, this is just the default text that shows up here. You can change this to any text you want and as you scroll over one of these GREP expressions, it tells you exactly what that code means. You can also learn about all these GREP codes in this list on the right. For example, if you click on \d, you can see that it says Matches any digit character. So very, very handy. You could even change this code to anything you want. So for example, I could say I want to search for anything that starts with an s and then I'll come over to this list on that side and see that \w is the one I want.
So I'll double-click on it. That adds it to my list. I already know that I want this to be a plus sign because I want it to be one or more. But I could pull that out of this list if I want because this has all those different codes in it. Very, very handy and I want this to end with the letter g and you can see that as I have been typing this, different things show up here as highlighted. And this word here is the only word that fits that GREP expression. So very, very handy. If I type, let's say, swing, as soon as I finish that G, it matches the GREP expression so it gets highlighted. Really a very cool system that this guy has put together. Again, there is the online version and the desktop version, which is created with Adobe Air.
So tools like this RegExr is a great way to really start learning GREP and really get your hands dirty with it and then when you are done you can just copy and paste your GREP expressions into InDesign to use them. With all these resources we have been looking at, I'm sure you are going to be knocking out GREP expressions as long as your arm in no time. So I hope you've enjoyed this little glance at GREP that we've had and may it help you lay out your pages quickly and efficiently.
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