Java regular expression to match valid Java identifiers

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I need to create a regular expression able to find and get valid identifiers in Java code like this:

int a, b, c;
float d, e;
a = b = 5;
c = 6;
if ( a > b)
c = a - b;
e = d - 2.0;
d = e + 6.0;
b = a + c;

I have tried to add multiple regexes in a single regex, but how can I build a pattern to exclude reserved words?

I tried this regex ^(((&&|<=|>=|<|>|!=|==|&|!)|([-+=]{1,2})|([.!?)}{;,(-]))|(else|if|float|int)|(d[d.])) but it does not work as expected.

Online demo

In the following picture, how should I match for identifiers?

enter image description here


A Java valid identifier is:

  1. having at least one character
  2. the first character MUST be a letter [a-zA-Z], underscore _, or dollar sign $
  3. the rest of the characters MAY be letters, digits, underscores, or dollar signs
  4. reserved words MUST not be used as identifiers
  5. Update: as single underscore _ is a keyword since Java 9

A naive regexp to validate the first three conditions would be as follows: (b([A-Za-z_$][$w]*)b) but it does not filter out the reserved words.

To exclude the reserved words, negative look-ahead (?!) is needed to specify a group of tokens that cannot match: b(?!(_b|if|else|for|float|int))([A-Za-z_$][$w]*):

  • Group #1: (?!(_b|if|else|for|float|int)) excludes the list of the specified words
  • Group #2: ([A-Za-z_$][$w]*) matches identifiers.

However, word border b consumes dollar sign $, so this regular expression fails to match identifies starting with $.
Also, we may want to exclude matching inside string and character literals (“not_a_variable”, ‘c’, ‘u65’).

This can be done using positive lookbehind (?<=) to match a group before main expression without including it in the result instead of the word-border class b: (?<=[^$w'"\])(?!(_b|if|else|for|float|int))([A-Za-z_$][$w]*)

Online demo for a short list of reserved words

Next, the full list of the Java reserved words is as follows, which can be collected into a single String of tokens separated with |.

A test class showing the final pattern for regular expression and its usage to detect the Java identifiers is provided below.

import java.util.Arrays;
import java.util.List;
import java.util.regex.MatchResult;
import java.util.regex.Pattern;

public class IdFinder {

    static final List<String> RESERVED = Arrays.asList(
        "abstract", "assert", "boolean", "break", "byte", "case", "catch", "char", "class", "const",
        "continue", "default", "double", "do", "else", "enum", "extends", "false", "final", "finally",
        "float", "for", "goto", "if", "implements", "import", "instanceof", "int", "interface", "long",
        "native", "new", "null", "package", "private", "protected", "public", "return", "short", "static",
        "strictfp", "super", "switch", "synchronized", "this", "throw", "throws", "transient", "true", "try",
        "void", "volatile", "while", "_\b"

    static final String JAVA_KEYWORDS = String.join("|", RESERVED);

    static final Pattern VALID_IDENTIFIERS = Pattern.compile(
            "(?<=[^$\w'"\\])(?!(" + JAVA_KEYWORDS + "))([A-Za-z_$][$\w]*)");

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("ID pattern:n" + VALID_IDENTIFIERS.pattern());

        String code = "public class Main {ntstatic int $1;ntprotected char _c0 = '\u65';ntprivate long c1__$$;n}";

        System.out.println("nIdentifiers in the following code:n=====n" + code + "n=====");



ID pattern:

Identifiers in the following code:
public class Main {
    static int $1;
    protected char _c0 = 'u65';
    private long c1__$$;

Source: stackoverflow