[TUHS] origin of the name 'glob'

Chris Torek torek at torek.net
Mon Jul 10 10:31:24 AEST 2017

>It would have been nice had RE's been the standard way to glob
>files, but, that said, when I mention .*\.c to people instead of
>*.c they don't much like it.

Regular expressions are more powerful than glob, but much
harder to use correctly.  People who have not had exposure
to them get them wrong all the time.  The most common mistakes,
in my experience, are or include:

  - Forgetting to quote ".": "pat.h" accidentally matches
    file "patch"!  This should read "pat\.h" (but see next

  - Forgetting to anchor expressions on left and/or right:
    "x\.c" matches "x.cc".  This should read "x\.c$" (or even
    "^x\.c$" or perhaps ".*/x\.c$").

(It's also sometimes difficult to know whether your expression
will be given the full -- in which case, relative or absolute? --
path, or just a single pathname component.)

Mercurial allows both regexp and glob matches in .hgignore files
(and other places), while Git allows only globs.  Moreover, this
is the *default* in Mercurial.  Both are a bit surprising since
Git usually goes straight for the hard-to-use, fully-general case
instead of introducing users with the easy case, while Mercurial
is pretty good about starting off gently and only then getting you
into the deeper complexities if required.

(Mercurial used to execute regexps much faster than globs, as
well, so Kurt Lidl was always transforming my simple glob matches
to regexps.  We both got them wrong sometimes, although I like to
think I got them right more often.  I *think* the performance
issues are long since fixed, but I use Mercurial much less these


More information about the TUHS mailing list