Javascript + Unicode regexes

By | December 18, 2017
Questions:

How can I use Unicode-aware regular expressions in JavaScript? For example, there should be something akin to \w that can match any code-point in Letters or Marks category (not just the ASCII ones), and hopefully have filters like [[P*]] for punctuation etc.

Answers:

Situation for ES 6

The upcoming ECMAScript language specification, edition 6, includes Unicode-aware regular expressions. Support must be enabled with the u modifier on the regex. See Unicode-aware regular expressions in ES6.

Until ES 6 is finished and widely adopted among browser vendors you’re still on your own, though. Update: There is now a transpiler named regexpu that translates ES6 Unicode regular expressions into equivalent ES5. It can be used as part of your build process. Try it out online.

Situation for ES 5 and below

Even though JavaScript operates on Unicode strings, it does not implement Unicode-aware character classes and has no concept of POSIX character classes or Unicode blocks/sub-ranges.

Questions:
Answers:

Having also not found a good solution, I wrote a small script a long time ago, by downloading data from the unicode specification (v.5.0.0) and generating intervals for each unicode category and subcategory in the BMP (lately replaced by a small Java program that uses its own native Unicode support).

Basically it converts \p{...} to a range of values, much like the output of the tool mentioned by Tomalak, but the intervals can end up quite large (since it’s not dealing with blocks, but with characters scattered through many different places).

For instance, a Regex written like this:

var regex = unicode_hack(/\p{L}(\p{L}|\p{Nd})*/g);

Will be converted to something like this:

/[\u0041-\u005a\u0061-\u007a...]([...]|[\u0030-\u0039\u0660-\u0669...])*/g

Haven’t used it a lot in practice, but it seems to work fine from my tests, so I’m posting here in case someone find it useful. Despite the length of the resulting regexes (the example above has 3591 characters when expanded), the performance seems to be acceptable (see the tests at jsFiddle; thanks to @modiX and @Lwangaman for the improvements).

Here’s the source (raw, 27.5KB; minified, 24.9KB, not much better…). It might be made smaller by unescaping the unicode characters, but OTOH will run the risk of encoding issues, so I’m leaving as it is. Hopefully with ES6 this kind of thing won’t be necessary anymore.

Update: this looks like the same strategy adopted in the XRegExp Unicode plug-in mentioned by Tim Down, except that in this case regular JavaScript regexes are being used.

Questions:
Answers:

As mentioned in other answers, JavaScript regexes have no support for Unicode character classes. However, there is a library that does provide this: Steven Levithan’s excellent XRegExp and its Unicode plug-in.

Questions:
Answers:

Personally, I would rather not install another library just to get this functionality. My answer does not require any external libraries, and it may also work with little modification for regex flavors besides JavaScript.

Unicode’s website provides a way to translate Unicode categories into a set of code points. Since it’s Unicode‘s website, the information from it should be accurate.

Note that you will need to exclude the high-end characters, as JavaScript can only handle characters less than FFFF (hex). I suggest checking the Abbreviate Collate, and Escape check boxes, which strike a balance between avoiding unprintable characters and minimizing the size of the regex.

Here are some common expansions of different Unicode properties:

\p{L} (Letters):

[A-Za-z\u00AA\u00B5\u00BA\u00C0-\u00D6\u00D8-\u00F6\u00F8-\u02C1\u02C6-\u02D1\u02E0-\u02E4\u02EC\u02EE\u0370-\u0374\u0376\u0377\u037A-\u037D\u037F\u0386\u0388-\u038A\u038C\u038E-\u03A1\u03A3-\u03F5\u03F7-\u0481\u048A-\u052F\u0531-\u0556\u0559\u0561-\u0587\u05D0-\u05EA\u05F0-\u05F2\u0620-\u064A\u066E\u066F\u0671-\u06D3\u06D5\u06E5\u06E6\u06EE\u06EF\u06FA-\u06FC\u06FF\u0710\u0712-\u072F\u074D-\u07A5\u07B1\u07CA-\u07EA\u07F4\u07F5\u07FA\u0800-\u0815\u081A\u0824\u0828\u0840-\u0858\u08A0-\u08B4\u0904-\u0939\u093D\u0950\u0958-\u0961\u0971-\u0980\u0985-\u098C\u098F\u0990\u0993-\u09A8\u09AA-\u09B0\u09B2\u09B6-\u09B9\u09BD\u09CE\u09DC\u09DD\u09DF-\u09E1\u09F0\u09F1\u0A05-\u0A0A\u0A0F\u0A10\u0A13-\u0A28\u0A2A-\u0A30\u0A32\u0A33\u0A35\u0A36\u0A38\u0A39\u0A59-\u0A5C\u0A5E\u0A72-\u0A74\u0A85-\u0A8D\u0A8F-\u0A91\u0A93-\u0AA8\u0AAA-\u0AB0\u0AB2\u0AB3\u0AB5-\u0AB9\u0ABD\u0AD0\u0AE0\u0AE1\u0AF9\u0B05-\u0B0C\u0B0F\u0B10\u0B13-\u0B28\u0B2A-\u0B30\u0B32\u0B33\u0B35-\u0B39\u0B3D\u0B5C\u0B5D\u0B5F-\u0B61\u0B71\u0B83\u0B85-\u0B8A\u0B8E-\u0B90\u0B92-\u0B95\u0B99\u0B9A\u0B9C\u0B9E\u0B9F\u0BA3\u0BA4\u0BA8-\u0BAA\u0BAE-\u0BB9\u0BD0\u0C05-\u0C0C\u0C0E-\u0C10\u0C12-\u0C28\u0C2A-\u0C39\u0C3D\u0C58-\u0C5A\u0C60\u0C61\u0C85-\u0C8C\u0C8E-\u0C90\u0C92-\u0CA8\u0CAA-\u0CB3\u0CB5-\u0CB9\u0CBD\u0CDE\u0CE0\u0CE1\u0CF1\u0CF2\u0D05-\u0D0C\u0D0E-\u0D10\u0D12-\u0D3A\u0D3D\u0D4E\u0D5F-\u0D61\u0D7A-\u0D7F\u0D85-\u0D96\u0D9A-\u0DB1\u0DB3-\u0DBB\u0DBD\u0DC0-\u0DC6\u0E01-\u0E30\u0E32\u0E33\u0E40-\u0E46\u0E81\u0E82\u0E84\u0E87\u0E88\u0E8A\u0E8D\u0E94-\u0E97\u0E99-\u0E9F\u0EA1-\u0EA3\u0EA5\u0EA7\u0EAA\u0EAB\u0EAD-\u0EB0\u0EB2\u0EB3\u0EBD\u0EC0-\u0EC4\u0EC6\u0EDC-\u0EDF\u0F00\u0F40-\u0F47\u0F49-\u0F6C\u0F88-\u0F8C\u1000-\u102A\u103F\u1050-\u1055\u105A-\u105D\u1061\u1065\u1066\u106E-\u1070\u1075-\u1081\u108E\u10A0-\u10C5\u10C7\u10CD\u10D0-\u10FA\u10FC-\u1248\u124A-\u124D\u1250-\u1256\u1258\u125A-\u125D\u1260-\u1288\u128A-\u128D\u1290-\u12B0\u12B2-\u12B5\u12B8-\u12BE\u12C0\u12C2-\u12C5\u12C8-\u12D6\u12D8-\u1310\u1312-\u1315\u1318-\u135A\u1380-\u138F\u13A0-\u13F5\u13F8-\u13FD\u1401-\u166C\u166F-\u167F\u1681-\u169A\u16A0-\u16EA\u16F1-\u16F8\u1700-\u170C\u170E-\u1711\u1720-\u1731\u1740-\u1751\u1760-\u176C\u176E-\u1770\u1780-\u17B3\u17D7\u17DC\u1820-\u1877\u1880-\u18A8\u18AA\u18B0-\u18F5\u1900-\u191E\u1950-\u196D\u1970-\u1974\u1980-\u19AB\u19B0-\u19C9\u1A00-\u1A16\u1A20-\u1A54\u1AA7\u1B05-\u1B33\u1B45-\u1B4B\u1B83-\u1BA0\u1BAE\u1BAF\u1BBA-\u1BE5\u1C00-\u1C23\u1C4D-\u1C4F\u1C5A-\u1C7D\u1CE9-\u1CEC\u1CEE-\u1CF1\u1CF5\u1CF6\u1D00-\u1DBF\u1E00-\u1F15\u1F18-\u1F1D\u1F20-\u1F45\u1F48-\u1F4D\u1F50-\u1F57\u1F59\u1F5B\u1F5D\u1F5F-\u1F7D\u1F80-\u1FB4\u1FB6-\u1FBC\u1FBE\u1FC2-\u1FC4\u1FC6-\u1FCC\u1FD0-\u1FD3\u1FD6-\u1FDB\u1FE0-\u1FEC\u1FF2-\u1FF4\u1FF6-\u1FFC\u2071\u207F\u2090-\u209C\u2102\u2107\u210A-\u2113\u2115\u2119-\u211D\u2124\u2126\u2128\u212A-\u212D\u212F-\u2139\u213C-\u213F\u2145-\u2149\u214E\u2183\u2184\u2C00-\u2C2E\u2C30-\u2C5E\u2C60-\u2CE4\u2CEB-\u2CEE\u2CF2\u2CF3\u2D00-\u2D25\u2D27\u2D2D\u2D30-\u2D67\u2D6F\u2D80-\u2D96\u2DA0-\u2DA6\u2DA8-\u2DAE\u2DB0-\u2DB6\u2DB8-\u2DBE\u2DC0-\u2DC6\u2DC8-\u2DCE\u2DD0-\u2DD6\u2DD8-\u2DDE\u2E2F\u3005\u3006\u3031-\u3035\u303B\u303C\u3041-\u3096\u309D-\u309F\u30A1-\u30FA\u30FC-\u30FF\u3105-\u312D\u3131-\u318E\u31A0-\u31BA\u31F0-\u31FF\u3400-\u4DB5\u4E00-\u9FD5\uA000-\uA48C\uA4D0-\uA4FD\uA500-\uA60C\uA610-\uA61F\uA62A\uA62B\uA640-\uA66E\uA67F-\uA69D\uA6A0-\uA6E5\uA717-\uA71F\uA722-\uA788\uA78B-\uA7AD\uA7B0-\uA7B7\uA7F7-\uA801\uA803-\uA805\uA807-\uA80A\uA80C-\uA822\uA840-\uA873\uA882-\uA8B3\uA8F2-\uA8F7\uA8FB\uA8FD\uA90A-\uA925\uA930-\uA946\uA960-\uA97C\uA984-\uA9B2\uA9CF\uA9E0-\uA9E4\uA9E6-\uA9EF\uA9FA-\uA9FE\uAA00-\uAA28\uAA40-\uAA42\uAA44-\uAA4B\uAA60-\uAA76\uAA7A\uAA7E-\uAAAF\uAAB1\uAAB5\uAAB6\uAAB9-\uAABD\uAAC0\uAAC2\uAADB-\uAADD\uAAE0-\uAAEA\uAAF2-\uAAF4\uAB01-\uAB06\uAB09-\uAB0E\uAB11-\uAB16\uAB20-\uAB26\uAB28-\uAB2E\uAB30-\uAB5A\uAB5C-\uAB65\uAB70-\uABE2\uAC00-\uD7A3\uD7B0-\uD7C6\uD7CB-\uD7FB\uF900-\uFA6D\uFA70-\uFAD9\uFB00-\uFB06\uFB13-\uFB17\uFB1D\uFB1F-\uFB28\uFB2A-\uFB36\uFB38-\uFB3C\uFB3E\uFB40\uFB41\uFB43\uFB44\uFB46-\uFBB1\uFBD3-\uFD3D\uFD50-\uFD8F\uFD92-\uFDC7\uFDF0-\uFDFB\uFE70-\uFE74\uFE76-\uFEFC\uFF21-\uFF3A\uFF41-\uFF5A\uFF66-\uFFBE\uFFC2-\uFFC7\uFFCA-\uFFCF\uFFD2-\uFFD7\uFFDA-\uFFDC]

\p{Nd} (Number decimal digits):

[0-9\u0660-\u0669\u06F0-\u06F9\u07C0-\u07C9\u0966-\u096F\u09E6-\u09EF\u0A66-\u0A6F\u0AE6-\u0AEF\u0B66-\u0B6F\u0BE6-\u0BEF\u0C66-\u0C6F\u0CE6-\u0CEF\u0D66-\u0D6F\u0DE6-\u0DEF\u0E50-\u0E59\u0ED0-\u0ED9\u0F20-\u0F29\u1040-\u1049\u1090-\u1099\u17E0-\u17E9\u1810-\u1819\u1946-\u194F\u19D0-\u19D9\u1A80-\u1A89\u1A90-\u1A99\u1B50-\u1B59\u1BB0-\u1BB9\u1C40-\u1C49\u1C50-\u1C59\uA620-\uA629\uA8D0-\uA8D9\uA900-\uA909\uA9D0-\uA9D9\uA9F0-\uA9F9\uAA50-\uAA59\uABF0-\uABF9\uFF10-\uFF19]

\p{P} (Punctuation):

[!-#%-*,-/\:;?@\[-\]_\{\}\u00A1\u00A7\u00AB\u00B6\u00B7\u00BB\u00BF\u037E\u0387\u055A-\u055F\u0589\u058A\u05BE\u05C0\u05C3\u05C6\u05F3\u05F4\u0609\u060A\u060C\u060D\u061B\u061E\u061F\u066A-\u066D\u06D4\u0700-\u070D\u07F7-\u07F9\u0830-\u083E\u085E\u0964\u0965\u0970\u0AF0\u0DF4\u0E4F\u0E5A\u0E5B\u0F04-\u0F12\u0F14\u0F3A-\u0F3D\u0F85\u0FD0-\u0FD4\u0FD9\u0FDA\u104A-\u104F\u10FB\u1360-\u1368\u1400\u166D\u166E\u169B\u169C\u16EB-\u16ED\u1735\u1736\u17D4-\u17D6\u17D8-\u17DA\u1800-\u180A\u1944\u1945\u1A1E\u1A1F\u1AA0-\u1AA6\u1AA8-\u1AAD\u1B5A-\u1B60\u1BFC-\u1BFF\u1C3B-\u1C3F\u1C7E\u1C7F\u1CC0-\u1CC7\u1CD3\u2010-\u2027\u2030-\u2043\u2045-\u2051\u2053-\u205E\u207D\u207E\u208D\u208E\u2308-\u230B\u2329\u232A\u2768-\u2775\u27C5\u27C6\u27E6-\u27EF\u2983-\u2998\u29D8-\u29DB\u29FC\u29FD\u2CF9-\u2CFC\u2CFE\u2CFF\u2D70\u2E00-\u2E2E\u2E30-\u2E42\u3001-\u3003\u3008-\u3011\u3014-\u301F\u3030\u303D\u30A0\u30FB\uA4FE\uA4FF\uA60D-\uA60F\uA673\uA67E\uA6F2-\uA6F7\uA874-\uA877\uA8CE\uA8CF\uA8F8-\uA8FA\uA8FC\uA92E\uA92F\uA95F\uA9C1-\uA9CD\uA9DE\uA9DF\uAA5C-\uAA5F\uAADE\uAADF\uAAF0\uAAF1\uABEB\uFD3E\uFD3F\uFE10-\uFE19\uFE30-\uFE52\uFE54-\uFE61\uFE63\uFE68\uFE6A\uFE6B\uFF01-\uFF03\uFF05-\uFF0A\uFF0C-\uFF0F\uFF1A\uFF1B\uFF1F\uFF20\uFF3B-\uFF3D\uFF3F\uFF5B\uFF5D\uFF5F-\uFF65]

The page also recognizes a number of obscure character classes, such as \p{Hira}, which is just the (Japanese) Hiragana characters:

[\u3041-\u3096\u309D-\u309F]

Lastly, it’s possible to plug a char class with more than one Unicode property to get a shorter regex than you would get by just combining them (as long as certain settings are checked).

Questions:
Answers:

In JavaScript, \w and \d are ASCII, while \s is Unicode. Don’t ask me why. JavaScript does support \p with Unicode categories, which you can use to emulate a Unicode-aware \w and \d.

For \d use \p{N} (numbers)

For \w use [\p{L}\p{N}\p{Pc}\p{M}] (letters, numbers, underscores, marks)

Update: Unfortunately, I was wrong about this. JavaScript does does not officially support \p either, though some implementations may still support this. The only Unicode support in JavaScript regexes is matching specific code points with \uFFFF. You can use those in ranges in character classes.

Questions:
Answers:

This will do it:

/[A-Za-z\u00C0-\u00FF ]+/.exec('hipopótamo maçã pólen ñ poção água língüa')

It explicitly selects a range of unicode characters.
It will work for latin characters, but other strange characters may be out of this range.

Questions:
Answers:

If you are using Babel then unicode support is already available.

I also released a plugin which transforms your source code such that you can write regular expressions like /^\p{L}+$/. These will then be transformed into something that browsers understand.

Here is the project page of the plugin: https://github.com/danielberndt/babel-plugin-utf-8-regex

Questions:
Answers:

[^\u0000-\u007F]+ for any characters which is not included ASCII characters.

For example:

function isNonLatinCharacters(s) {
    return /[^\u0000-\u007F]/.test(s);
}

console.log(isNonLatinCharacters("身分"));// Japanese
console.log(isNonLatinCharacters("测试"));// Chinese
console.log(isNonLatinCharacters("حمید"));// Persian
console.log(isNonLatinCharacters("테스트"));// Korean
console.log(isNonLatinCharacters("परीक्षण"));// Hindi
console.log(isNonLatinCharacters("מִבְחָן"));// Hebrew

Here are some perfect references:

Unicode range RegExp generator

Unicode Regular Expressions

Unicode 10.0 Character Code Charts

Match Unicode Block Range

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