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Regular Expressions Cookbook, 2nd Edition

Cover of Regular Expressions Cookbook, 2nd Edition by Jan Goyvaerts... Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  1. Regular Expressions Cookbook
  2. Preface
    1. Caught in the Snarls of Different Versions
    2. Intended Audience
    3. Technology Covered
    4. Organization of This Book
    5. Conventions Used in This Book
    6. Using Code Examples
    7. Safari® Books Online
    8. How to Contact Us
    9. Acknowledgments
  3. 1. Introduction to Regular Expressions
    1. Regular Expressions Defined
      1. Many Flavors of Regular Expressions
      2. Regex Flavors Covered by This Book
    2. Search and Replace with Regular Expressions
      1. Many Flavors of Replacement Text
    3. Tools for Working with Regular Expressions
      1. RegexBuddy
      2. RegexPal
      3. RegexMagic
      4. More Online Regex Testers
      5. More Desktop Regular Expression Testers
      6. grep
      7. Popular Text Editors
  4. 2. Basic Regular Expression Skills
    1. 2.1. Match Literal Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    2. 2.2. Match Nonprintable Characters
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations on Representations of Nonprinting Characters
      5. See Also
    3. 2.3. Match One of Many Characters
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. Flavor-Specific Features
      6. See Also
    4. 2.4. Match Any Character
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    5. 2.5. Match Something at the Start and/or the End of a Line
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    6. 2.6. Match Whole Words
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Word Characters
      5. See Also
    7. 2.7. Unicode Code Points, Categories, Blocks, and Scripts
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    8. 2.8. Match One of Several Alternatives
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    9. 2.9. Group and Capture Parts of the Match
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    10. 2.10. Match Previously Matched Text Again
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    11. 2.11. Capture and Name Parts of the Match
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. 2.12. Repeat Part of the Regex a Certain Number of Times
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    13. 2.13. Choose Minimal or Maximal Repetition
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    14. 2.14. Eliminate Needless Backtracking
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    15. 2.15. Prevent Runaway Repetition
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    16. 2.16. Test for a Match Without Adding It to the Overall Match
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Alternative to Lookbehind
      5. Solution Without Lookbehind
      6. See Also
    17. 2.17. Match One of Two Alternatives Based on a Condition
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    18. 2.18. Add Comments to a Regular Expression
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
    19. 2.19. Insert Literal Text into the Replacement Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    20. 2.20. Insert the Regex Match into the Replacement Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    21. 2.21. Insert Part of the Regex Match into the Replacement Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Solution Using Named Capture
      5. See Also
    22. 2.22. Insert Match Context into the Replacement Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
  5. 3. Programming with Regular Expressions
    1. Programming Languages and Regex Flavors
      1. Languages Covered in This Chapter
      2. More Programming Languages
    2. 3.1. Literal Regular Expressions in Source Code
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    3. 3.2. Import the Regular Expression Library
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
    4. 3.3. Create Regular Expression Objects
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Compiling a Regular Expression Down to CIL
      5. Discussion
      6. See Also
    5. 3.4. Set Regular Expression Options
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Additional Language-Specific Options
      5. See Also
    6. 3.5. Test If a Match Can Be Found Within a Subject String
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    7. 3.6. Test Whether a Regex Matches the Subject String Entirely
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    8. 3.7. Retrieve the Matched Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    9. 3.8. Determine the Position and Length of the Match
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    10. 3.9. Retrieve Part of the Matched Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Named Capture
      5. See Also
    11. 3.10. Retrieve a List of All Matches
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. 3.11. Iterate over All Matches
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    13. 3.12. Validate Matches in Procedural Code
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    14. 3.13. Find a Match Within Another Match
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    15. 3.14. Replace All Matches
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    16. 3.15. Replace Matches Reusing Parts of the Match
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Named Capture
      5. See Also
    17. 3.16. Replace Matches with Replacements Generated in Code
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    18. 3.17. Replace All Matches Within the Matches of Another Regex
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    19. 3.18. Replace All Matches Between the Matches of Another Regex
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    20. 3.19. Split a String
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    21. 3.20. Split a String, Keeping the Regex Matches
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    22. 3.21. Search Line by Line
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    23. Construct a Parser
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
  6. 4. Validation and Formatting
    1. 4.1. Validate Email Addresses
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    2. 4.2. Validate and Format North American Phone Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    3. 4.3. Validate International Phone Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    4. 4.4. Validate Traditional Date Formats
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    5. 4.5. Validate Traditional Date Formats, Excluding Invalid Dates
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    6. 4.6. Validate Traditional Time Formats
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    7. 4.7. Validate ISO 8601 Dates and Times
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    8. 4.8. Limit Input to Alphanumeric Characters
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    9. 4.9. Limit the Length of Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    10. 4.10. Limit the Number of Lines in Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    11. 4.11. Validate Affirmative Responses
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. 4.12. Validate Social Security Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    13. 4.13. Validate ISBNs
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    14. 4.14. Validate ZIP Codes
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    15. 4.15. Validate Canadian Postal Codes
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    16. 4.16. Validate U.K. Postcodes
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    17. 4.17. Find Addresses with Post Office Boxes
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    18. 4.18. Reformat Names From “FirstName LastName” to “LastName, FirstName”
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    19. 4.19. Validate Password Complexity
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    20. 4.20. Validate Credit Card Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Extra Validation with the Luhn Algorithm
      5. See Also
    21. 4.21. European VAT Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
  7. 5. Words, Lines, and Special Characters
    1. 5.1. Find a Specific Word
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    2. 5.2. Find Any of Multiple Words
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    3. 5.3. Find Similar Words
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    4. 5.4. Find All Except a Specific Word
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    5. 5.5. Find Any Word Not Followed by a Specific Word
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    6. 5.6. Find Any Word Not Preceded by a Specific Word
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    7. 5.7. Find Words Near Each Other
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    8. 5.8. Find Repeated Words
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    9. 5.9. Remove Duplicate Lines
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    10. 5.10. Match Complete Lines That Contain a Word
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    11. 5.11. Match Complete Lines That Do Not Contain a Word
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. 5.12. Trim Leading and Trailing Whitespace
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    13. 5.13. Replace Repeated Whitespace with a Single Space
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    14. 5.14. Escape Regular Expression Metacharacters
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
  8. 6. Numbers
    1. 6.1. Integer Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    2. 6.2. Hexadecimal Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    3. 6.3. Binary Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    4. 6.4. Octal Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    5. 6.5. Decimal Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    6. 6.6. Strip Leading Zeros
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    7. 6.7. Numbers Within a Certain Range
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    8. 6.8. Hexadecimal Numbers Within a Certain Range
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    9. 6.9. Integer Numbers with Separators
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    10. 6.10. Floating-Point Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    11. 6.11. Numbers with Thousand Separators
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. 6.12. Add Thousand Separators to Numbers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    13. 6.13. Roman Numerals
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Convert Roman Numerals to Decimal
      5. See Also
  9. 7. Source Code and Log Files
    1. Keywords
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    2. Identifiers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    3. Numeric Constants
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    4. Operators
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
    5. Single-Line Comments
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    6. Multiline Comments
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    7. All Comments
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    8. Strings
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    9. Strings with Escapes
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    10. Regex Literals
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    11. Here Documents
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. Common Log Format
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    13. Combined Log Format
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    14. Broken Links Reported in Web Logs
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
  10. 8. URLs, Paths, and Internet Addresses
    1. 8.1. Validating URLs
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    2. 8.2. Finding URLs Within Full Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    3. 8.3. Finding Quoted URLs in Full Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    4. 8.4. Finding URLs with Parentheses in Full Text
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    5. 8.5. Turn URLs into Links
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    6. 8.6. Validating URNs
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    7. 8.7. Validating Generic URLs
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    8. 8.8. Extracting the Scheme from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    9. 8.9. Extracting the User from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    10. 8.10. Extracting the Host from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    11. 8.11. Extracting the Port from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    12. 8.12. Extracting the Path from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    13. 8.13. Extracting the Query from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    14. 8.14. Extracting the Fragment from a URL
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    15. 8.15. Validating Domain Names
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    16. 8.16. Matching IPv4 Addresses
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    17. 8.17. Matching IPv6 Addresses
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    18. 8.18. Validate Windows Paths
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    19. 8.19. Split Windows Paths into Their Parts
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    20. 8.20. Extract the Drive Letter from a Windows Path
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    21. 8.21. Extract the Server and Share from a UNC Path
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    22. 8.22. Extract the Folder from a Windows Path
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    23. 8.23. Extract the Filename from a Windows Path
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    24. 8.24. Extract the File Extension from a Windows Path
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    25. 8.25. Strip Invalid Characters from Filenames
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
  11. 9. Markup and Data Formats
    1. Processing Markup and Data Formats with Regular Expressions
      1. Basic Rules for Formats Covered in This Chapter
    2. 9.1. Find XML-Style Tags
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Skip Tricky (X)HTML and XML Sections
      5. See Also
    3. 9.2. Replace <b> Tags with <strong>
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    4. 9.3. Remove All XML-Style Tags Except <em> and <strong>
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    5. 9.4. Match XML Names
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    6. 9.5. Convert Plain Text to HTML by Adding <p> and <br> Tags
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    7. 9.6. Decode XML Entities
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    8. 9.7. Find a Specific Attribute in XML-Style Tags
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    9. 9.8. Add a cellspacing Attribute to <table> Tags That Do Not Already Include It
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    10. 9.9. Remove XML-Style Comments
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    11. 9.10. Find Words Within XML-Style Comments
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    12. 9.11. Change the Delimiter Used in CSV Files
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    13. 9.12. Extract CSV Fields from a Specific Column
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    14. 9.13. Match INI Section Headers
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. Variations
      5. See Also
    15. 9.14. Match INI Section Blocks
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
    16. 9.15. Match INI Name-Value Pairs
      1. Problem
      2. Solution
      3. Discussion
      4. See Also
  12. Index
  13. About the Authors
  14. Colophon
  15. Copyright
O'Reilly logo

4.20. Validate Credit Card Numbers

Problem

You’re given the job of implementing an order form for a company that accepts payment by credit card. Since the credit card processor charges for each transaction attempt, including failed attempts, you want to use a regular expression to weed out obviously invalid credit card numbers.

Doing this will also improve the customer’s experience. A regular expression can instantly detect obvious typos as soon as the customer finishes filling in the field on the web form. A round trip to the credit card processor, by contrast, easily takes 10 to 30 seconds.

Solution

To keep the implementation simple, this solution is split into two parts. First we strip out spaces and hyphens. Then we validate what remains.

Strip spaces and hyphens

Retrieve the credit card number entered by the customer and store it into a variable. Before performing the check for a valid number, perform a search-and-replace to strip out spaces and hyphens. Replace all matches of this regular expression with blank replacement text:

[-]
Regex options: None
Regex flavors: .NET, Java, JavaScript, PCRE, Perl, Python, Ruby

Recipe 3.14 shows you how to perform this initial replacement.

Validate the number

With spaces and hyphens stripped from the input, the next regular expression checks if the credit card number uses the format of any of the six major credit card companies. It uses named capture to detect which brand of credit card the customer has:

^(?:
(?<visa>4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})?) |
(?<mastercard>5[1-5][0-9]{14}) |
(?<discover>6(?:011|5[0-9]{2})[0-9]{12}) |
(?<amex>3[47][0-9]{13}) |
(?<diners>3(?:0[0-5]|[68][0-9])[0-9]{11}) |
(?<jcb>(?:2131|1800|35[0-9]{3})[0-9]{11})
)$
Regex options: Free-spacing
Regex flavors: .NET, Java 7, XRegExp, PCRE 7, Perl 5.10, Ruby 1.9
^(?:
(?P<visa>4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})?) |
(?P<mastercard>5[1-5][0-9]{14}) |
(?P<discover>6(?:011|5[0-9]{2})[0-9]{12}) |
(?P<amex>3[47][0-9]{13}) |
(?P<diners>3(?:0[0-5]|[68][0-9])[0-9]{11}) |
(?P<jcb>(?:2131|1800|35[0-9]{3})[0-9]{11})
)$
Regex options: Free-spacing
Regex flavors: PCRE, Python

Java 4 to 6, Perl 5.8 and earlier, and Ruby 1.8 do not support named capture. You can use numbered capture instead. Group 1 will capture Visa cards, group 2 MasterCard, and so on up to group 6 for JCB:

^(?:
(4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})?) |          # Visa
(5[1-5][0-9]{14}) |                  # MasterCard
(6(?:011|5[0-9]{2})[0-9]{12}) |      # Discover
(3[47][0-9]{13}) |                   # AMEX
(3(?:0[0-5]|[68][0-9])[0-9]{11}) |   # Diners Club
((?:2131|1800|35[0-9]{3})[0-9]{11})  # JCB
)$
Regex options: Free-spacing
Regex flavors: .NET, Java, XRegExp, PCRE, Perl, Python, Ruby

Standard JavaScript does not support named capture or free-spacing. Removing whitespace and comments, we get:

^(?:(4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})?)|(5[1-5][0-9]{14})|↵
(6(?:011|5[0-9]{2})[0-9]{12})|(3[47][0-9]{13})|↵
(3(?:0[0-5]|[68][0-9])[0-9]{11})|((?:2131|1800|35[0-9]{3})[0-9]{11}))$
Regex options: None
Regex flavors: .NET, Java, JavaScript, PCRE, Perl, Python, Ruby

If you don’t need to determine which type the card is, you can remove the six capturing groups that surround the pattern for each card type, as they don’t serve any other purpose.

Follow Recipe 3.6 to add this regular expression to your order form to validate the card number. If you use different processors for different cards, or if you just want to keep some statistics, you can use Recipe 3.9 to check which named or numbered capturing group holds the match. That will tell you which brand of credit card the customer has.

Example web page with JavaScript

<html>
<head>
<title>Credit Card Test</title>
</head>

<body>
<h1>Credit Card Test</h1>

<form>
<p>Please enter your credit card number:</p>

<p><input type="text" size="20" name="cardnumber"
  onkeyup="validatecardnumber(this.value)"></p>

<p id="notice">(no card number entered)</p>
</form>

<script>
function validatecardnumber(cardnumber) {
  // Strip spaces and dashes
  cardnumber = cardnumber.replace(/[ -]/g, '');
  // See if the card is valid
  // The regex will capture the number in one of the capturing groups
  var match = /^(?:(4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})?)|(5[1-5][0-9]{14})|↵
(6(?:011|5[0-9]{2})[0-9]{12})|(3[47][0-9]{13})|(3(?:0[0-5]|[68][0-9])↵
[0-9]{11})|((?:2131|1800|35[0-9]{3})[0-9]{11}))$/.exec(cardnumber);
  if (match) {
    // List of card types, in the same order as the regex capturing groups
    var types = ['Visa', 'MasterCard', 'Discover', 'American Express',
                 'Diners Club', 'JCB'];
    // Find the capturing group that matched
    // Skip the zeroth element of the match array (the overall match)
    for (var i = 1; i < match.length; i++) {
      if (match[i]) {
        // Display the card type for that group
        document.getElementById('notice').innerHTML = types[i - 1];
        break;
      }
    }
  } else {
    document.getElementById('notice').innerHTML = '(invalid card number)';
  }
}
</script>
</body>
</html>

Discussion

Strip spaces and hyphens

On an actual credit card, the digits of the embossed card number are usually placed into groups of four. That makes the card number easier for humans to read. Naturally, many people will try to enter the card number in the same way, including the spaces, on order forms.

Writing a regular expression that validates a card number, allowing for spaces, hyphens, and whatnot, is much more difficult that writing a regular expression that only allows digits. Thus, unless you want to annoy the customer with retyping the card number without spaces or hyphens, do a quick search-and-replace to strip them out before validating the card number and sending it to the card processor.

The regular expression [-] matches a character that is a space or a hyphen. Replacing all matches of this regular expression with nothing effectively deletes all spaces and hyphens.

Tip

Credit card numbers can consist only of digits. Instead of using [-] to remove only spaces and hyphens, you could use the shorthand character class \D to strip out all nondigits.

Validate the number

Each of the credit card companies uses a different number format. We’ll exploit that difference to allow users to enter a number without specifying a company; the company can be determined from the number. The format for each company is:

Visa

13 or 16 digits, starting with 4.

MasterCard

16 digits, starting with 51 through 55.

Discover

16 digits, starting with 6011 or 65.

American Express

15 digits, starting with 34 or 37.

Diners Club

14 digits, starting with 300 through 305, 36, or 38.

JCB

15 digits, starting with 2131 or 1800, or 16 digits starting with 35.

If you accept only certain brands of credit cards, you can delete the cards that you don’t accept from the regular expression. When deleting JCB, make sure to delete the last remaining | in the regular expression as well. If you end up with || or |) in your regular expression, it will accept the empty string as a valid card number.

For example, to accept only Visa, MasterCard, and AMEX, you can use:

^(?:
4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})? |         # Visa
5[1-5][0-9]{14} |                 # MasterCard
3[47][0-9]{13}                    # AMEX
)$
Regex options: Free-spacing
Regex flavors: .NET, Java, XRegExp, PCRE, Perl, Python, Ruby

Alternatively:

^(?:4[0-9]{12}(?:[0-9]{3})?|5[1-5][0-9]{14}|3[47][0-9]{13})$
Regex options: None
Regex flavors: .NET, Java, JavaScript, PCRE, Perl, Python, Ruby

If you’re searching for credit card numbers in a larger body of text, replace the anchors with \b word boundaries.

Incorporating the solution into a web page

The section Example web page with JavaScript shows how you could add these two regular expressions to your order form. The input box for the credit card number has an onkeyup event handler that calls the validatecardnumber() function. This function retrieves the card number from the input box, strips the spaces and hyphens, and then validates it using the regular expression with numbered capturing groups. The result of the validation is displayed by replacing the text in the last paragraph on the page.

If the regular expression fails to match, regexp.exec() returns null, and (invalid card number) is displayed. If the regex does match, regexp.exec() returns an array of strings. The zeroth element holds the overall match. Elements 1 through 6 hold the text matched by the six capturing groups.

Our regular expression has six capturing groups, divided by alternation. This means that exactly one capturing group will participate in the match and hold the card number. The other groups will be empty (either undefined or the empty string, depending on your browser). The function checks the six capturing groups, one by one. When it finds one that is not empty, the card number is recognized and displayed.

Extra Validation with the Luhn Algorithm

There is an extra validation check that you can do on the credit card number before processing the order. The last digit in the credit card number is a checksum calculated according to the Luhn algorithm. Since this algorithm requires basic arithmetic, you cannot implement it with a regular expression.

You can add the Luhn check to the web page example for this recipe by inserting the call luhn(cardnumber); before the “else” line in the validatecardnumber() function. This way, the Luhn check will be done only if the regular expression finds a valid match, and after determining the card brand. However, determining the brand of the credit card is not necessary for the Luhn check. All credit cards use the same method.

In JavaScript, you can code the Luhn function as follows:

function luhn(cardnumber) {
  // Build an array with the digits in the card number
  var digits = cardnumber.split('');
  for (var i = 0; i < digits.length; i++) {
    digits[i] = parseInt(digits[i], 10);
  }  
  // Run the Luhn algorithm on the array
  var sum = 0;
  var alt = false;
  for (i = digits.length - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
    if (alt) {
      digits[i] *= 2;
      if (digits[i] > 9) {
        digits[i] -= 9;
      }
    }
    sum += digits[i];
    alt = !alt;
  }
  // Check the result
  if (sum % 10 == 0) {
    document.getElementById('notice').innerHTML += '; Luhn check passed';
  } else {
    document.getElementById('notice').innerHTML += '; Luhn check failed';
  }
}

This function takes a string with the credit card number as a parameter. The card number should consist only of digits. In our example, validatecardnumber() has already stripped spaces and hyphens and determined the card number to have the right number of digits.

First, we split the string into an array of individual characters. Then we iterate over the array to convert the characters into integers. If we don’t convert them, the sum variable will end up as a string concatenation of the digits, rather than the integer addition of the numbers.

The actual algorithm runs on the array, calculating a checksum. If the sum modulus 10 is zero, then the card number is valid. If not, the number is invalid.

See Also

Techniques used in the regular expressions in this recipe are discussed in Chapter 2. Recipe 2.3 explains character classes. Recipe 2.5 explains anchors. Recipe 2.8 explains alternation. Recipe 2.9 explains grouping. Recipe 2.11 explains named capturing groups. Recipe 2.12 explains repetition.

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