Review: The Regulator

The Regulator 1.02b2
Roy Osherove

Regular expressions are a powerful and complex feature of the Microsoft .NET Framework (and of many other programming environments as well, of course). If you're working with regexes in .NET, and need a powerful environment for editing and testing them, you definitely ought to take a look at The Regulator. The price is right and the feature list is longer than I've seen in other regex utilities.

To begin with, of course, you can enter a regular expression, input and replacement strings, and experiment with match, split, and replace behavior. Actually, you can enter more than one regular expression, because the color-coded editor supports multiple open documents, as well as collapsing and expanding sections. You can save the regular expressions to disk and or use a disk file as the input to work with.

Not sure what to enter to get the regex you want? Right-click and follow the shortcut menus to add in any of the .NET regex syntax. Also useful is "Escape Selection", which adds appropriate whitespace markers to turn a literal string into something that will work inside of a regex.

Want a starting point? You can search the library of regular expressions at and import your results directly from The Regulator's interface. If you've come up with a genius-level regex of your own, a wizard guides you through the process of adding it to the library.

An "expert snippets" window stores chunks of text to save you typing, while a performance graph lets you see the effects of modifying your expression as you tune it. The whole can also be minimized to the system tray - useful if you're working on an application where you need regex support at all times.

What's missing? There's no help file or code generation -- yet. But Roy is actively working on the application, and I hear more good things are coming down the pike. In short order, The Regulator has become the most comprehensive of the .NET regex applications out there. And it's still free.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.