We said, 'Let's slow it down. Let's do this to it, let's do that to it,' and it ends up however it comes out. I just said, 'Look, I've got no arrangement for you, but you know how I want it. So I said, 'Give me something funky and set up a beat, maybe.
What about year 20BC? But I then discovered, as many of the answers and comments have comprehensively highlighted, there are many pitfalls that make constructing an effective pattern very tricky when extracting dates that are mixed-in with poor quality or non-structured source data.
In my exploration of the issues, I have come up with a system that enables you to build a regular expression by arranging together four simpler sub-expressions that match on the delimiter, and valid ranges for the year, month and day fields in the order you require.
The colon has to be there to prevent matching on times that look like dates see my test Data You can optimise this part of the pattern to speed up matching, but this is a good foundation that detects most valid delimiters.
This expression matches Date, Month, Year formatted dates 0? It should also be bookended with the boundary operators to ensure the whole date string is selected and prevent valid sub-dates being extracted from data that is not well-formed i. That is a data quality issue, and as others have said, your regex shouldn't need to validate the data.
Because you as a developer can't guarantee the quality of the source data you do need to perform and handle additional validation in your code, if you try to match and validate the data in the RegEx it gets very messy and becomes difficult to support without very concise documentation.
Garbage in, garbage out. I'm struggling to think of a scenario where that is not going to cause a problem somewhere down the line, it's bad practice and you shouldn't have to deal with it like that - find the data owner and hit them with the governance hammer.
Test data In experimenting with the solutions in this thread I ended up with a test data set that includes a variety of valid and non-valid dates and some tricky situations where you may or may not want to match i. Times that could match as dates and dates on multiple lines.
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