Posts Tagged ‘mail’

WTFOTM: Email validating RegExp

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I think I’ll start a new series: My wtf of the month. This time, it’s a regular expression I found.

How much does it take to validate an email address, you might ask. Well, can’t be that hard, right? If you read the corresponding RFC 5322, you’ll notice that the local part of an email address (that is the part in front of the “@”) contains “dot-atoms”. Section 3.4.1 writes:

local-part      =   dot-atom / quoted-string / obs-local-part

At the end of the day, a “dot-atom” is a “dot-atom-text” which is a “atext” which is according to section 3.2.3:

atext           =   ALPHA / DIGIT /    ; Printable US-ASCII
“!” / “#” /        ;  characters not including
“$” / “%” /        ;  specials.  Used for atoms.
“&” / “‘” /
“*” / “+” /
“-” / “/” /
“=” / “?” /
“^” / “_” /
“`” / “{” /
“|” / “}” /
“~”

That effectively allows you to have email addresses like !foo$bar/baz=qux@example.com, "#~foo@bar^^"@example.com, `echo${LFS}ssh-rsa${LFS}AAA...|tee${LFS}~/.ssh/authorized_keys`@example.com. I am more than curious to see how servers and MUAs (especially on mobile devices) handle these cases.

I came around to bother because some poor guy wanted to implement email address validation in Evolution. I found the yet untested but obviously correct way in a Perl module:

$RFC822PAT = <<'EOF';
[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\
xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xf
f\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\x
ff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|"[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015
"]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*)*")[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\
xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80
-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*
)*(?:\.[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\
\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\
x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x8
0-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|"[^\\\x80-\xff\n
\015"]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*)*")[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x
80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^
\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040
\t]*)*)*@[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([
^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\
\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\
x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-
\xff\n\015\[\]]|\\[^\x80-\xff])*\])[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()
]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\
x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:\.[\04
0\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\
n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\
015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?!
[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\
]]|\\[^\x80-\xff])*\])[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\
x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\01
5()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*)*|(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".
\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]
)|"[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*)*")[^
()<>@,;:".\\\[\]\x80-\xff\000-\010\012-\037]*(?:(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\0
15()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][
^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)|"[^\\\x80-\xff\
n\015"]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*)*")[^()<>@,;:".\\\[\]\
x80-\xff\000-\010\012-\037]*)*<[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?
:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-
\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:@[\040\t]*
(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015
()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()
]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\0
40)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\]]|\\
[^\x80-\xff])*\])[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\
xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*
)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:\.[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80
-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x
80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t
]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\
\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\]]|\\[^\x80-\xff])
*\])[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x
80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80
-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*)*(?:,[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015(
)]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\
\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*@[\040\t
]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\0
15()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015
()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(
\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\]]|
\\[^\x80-\xff])*\])[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80
-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()
]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:\.[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x
80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^
\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040
\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".
\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\]]|\\[^\x80-\xff
])*\])[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\
\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x
80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*)*)*:[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015
()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\
\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*)?(?:[^
(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-
\037\x80-\xff])|"[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\
n\015"]*)*")[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|
\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))
[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:\.[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff
\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\x
ff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(
?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\
000-\037\x80-\xff])|"[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015"]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\
xff\n\015"]*)*")[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\x
ff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)
*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*)*@[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\x
ff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-
\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)
*(?:[^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\
]\000-\037\x80-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\]]|\\[^\x80-\xff])*\]
)[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-
\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\x
ff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:\.[\040\t]*(?:\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(
?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80
-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\)[\040\t]*)*(?:[^(\040)<
>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x80-\xff]+(?![^(\040)<>@,;:".\\\[\]\000-\037\x8
0-\xff])|\[(?:[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015\[\]]|\\[^\x80-\xff])*\])[\040\t]*(?:
\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*(?:(?:\\[^\x80-\xff]|\([^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]
*(?:\\[^\x80-\xff][^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)*\))[^\\\x80-\xff\n\015()]*)
*\)[\040\t]*)*)*>)
EOF

This is a handy 6.5kB regular expression that validates an email address. I wonder how long it takes to compile and to actually match an email address against… (Arr, stupid wordpress escapes all those fancy characters everytime I have the edit widget open :-( )

So, now go and fix your email address validating script.