in reply to Look-Arounds in Regexes are Hard

++moritz for caring about beginners.

I don't consider myself to be a newby any more, but even so, look-wherever expressions make me a bit crosseyed, and it got worse when I realized that the original question implied a fixed start and end to the pattern. When that happens, a line like

Functions <code>abc()</code> and <code>foo()</code>
should match the first code block, but not the second.

If we want to use lookahead to match <code> blocks that don't contain foo, we might use something like

but you'd be wise to insert a ton of comments to clarify things*. OTOH, I find it far more readable to use something like the following:
#!/usr/bin/perl -w use strict; LINE: while ( <DATA> ) { MATCH: while ( m#<code>(.*?)</code>#gi ) { print "$1\n" if ( $1 !~ /foo/ ); } } __DATA__ This has no match at all, and is skipped. This has foo, but is skipped with no code block. <code>This is acceptable</code> so is <code></code> an embedded block, and the next. <code></code> <code>is foo rejected</code> <code>foo</code> we will skip <code> with no terminator. and, we will also skip <code> with foo, but no terminator. foo that preceeds <code> just </code> simple text is accepted. here is <code> another </code> example. but <code> Perl </code> will accept foo outside the block. The foo can be in advance, as every <code> hacker </code> knows. Doubled matches like <code></code> foo <code></code> are evil. This should <code> skip the second loop</code><code> foo </code>. This <code> foo </code> should <code> skip the first loop </code>.

This gives us the desired multiple-block behaviors, while providing us with the non-foo data (in $1) for each instance, so we can do something more complicated with it if desired. In addition, the nested loop was surprisingly about 10% faster than the look-ahead code when I compared it over 100,000 iterations using Perl v5.10.0.

*Unless you're in the UK; in that case, use a tonne of comments instead. :)

Note: lost a slash in code cut/paste business - repaired.