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There are two ways of including comments in patterns that are processed by PCRE. In both cases, the start of the comment must not be in a character class, nor in the middle of any other sequence of related characters such as (?: or a subpattern name or number. The characters that make up a comment play no part in the pattern matching.


The sequence (?# marks the start of a comment that continues up to the next closing parenthesis. Nested parentheses are not permitted. If the PCRE_EXTENDED option is set, an unescaped # character also introduces a comment, which in this case continues to immediately after the next newline character or character sequence in the pattern. Which characters are interpreted as newlines is controlled by the options passed to a compiling function or by a special sequence at the start of the pattern, as described in the section entitled "Newline conventions" above. Note that the end of this type of comment is a literal newline sequence in the pattern; escape sequences that happen to represent a newline do not count. For example, consider this pattern when PCRE_EXTENDED is set, and the default newline convention is in force:


  abc #comment \n still comment


On encountering the # character, pcre_compile() skips along, looking for a newline in the pattern. The sequence \n is still literal at this stage, so it does not terminate the comment. Only an actual character with the code value 0x0a (the default newline) does so.




Philip Hazel

University Computing Service

Cambridge CB2 3QH, England.

Last updated: 12 November 2013

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