Detecting new useragent patterns

When you find a useragent for which one or more of the fields are wrong there is the need to change the patterns and rules that are used by this system for classifying these attributes. In order to write rules this first described how the system works and what tools have been created to make writing new rules easier.

Base problem: They all lie

When looking at useragents it is clear that almost all of them include the name of predecessors/competitors with which they are supposed to be compatible with.

So in general there is a ranking in the patterns; some are more true than others.

Solution overview

The way this system solves all of this is by employing several steps:

  1. The user agent string is parsed into a tree using Antlr4.
  2. This tree is matched against a set of "Matchers" A matcher is
    • a set of patterns that must be present in the tree
    • a set of field/value combinations with a 'weight' the value can be either a fixed value or a part of the tree.
  3. For all matchers where ALL required patterns were present the field/value/weight results are all combined. For fields where multiple values were present the value with the highest weight 'wins'

All matchers are with tests placed in yaml files in the UserAgents directory. Because of the system with the weights the order of the matchers is not checked or guaranteed in any way. So if the two matchers may set the same field to a different value then better make sure they have different weights.

The anatomy of a matcher

A matcher consists of 3 parts require extract options

The "require" part holds the patterns that must all result in a non-null value. The IsNull operator is intended to check that a specific value actually IS null. The "extract" part is to send either a fixed string or an extracted pattern into a field with a certain numerical confidence.

There are a few possible option flags:

init This means the init output for this matcher must be shown. This is the same effect when running it without any extract values verbose This means that a LOT of debug output will be shown in the output. only This means that ONLY this test must be run. No others.

Only IFF all require AND all extract patterns yielded a non-null value then will all of the extracted values be added to the end result. In general a field will receive a value from multiple matchers; the value with the highest confidence value will be in the output.

The overall structure is this:

- lookup:
    name: 'lookupname'
      "From1" : "To1"
      "From2" : "To2"
      "From3" : "To3"

- set:
    name: 'setname'
    - 'foo'
    - 'bar'

- matcher:
    - 'verbose'
    - 'VariableName : Extract pattern'
    - 'VariableName : Extract pattern'
    - 'Require pattern'
    - 'Require pattern'
    - 'FieldName : Confidence : Extract pattern'
    - 'FieldName : Confidence : Extract pattern'

- test:
    - 'verbose'
    - 'init'
      user_agent_string: 'Useragent'
      FieldName     : 'ExpectedValue'
      FieldName     : 'ExpectedValue'
      FieldName     : 'ExpectedValue'

A require pattern must simply yield a non-null value. The IsNull operator only makes sense in the context of a require as with this you can check that a pattern may not exist.

For example to do checks like "The last product in the list must be named foo" you can write this

- matcher:
    - 'IsNull["foo"^>]'

An extract pattern is either a fixed string "foo" or a path expression as explained later in this document.

Where the rules are located

Under the main resources there is a folder called UserAgents . In the folder a collection of yaml files are located. Each of those files contains matchers, lookups, tests or any combination of them in any order. This means that in many cases you'll find a relevant test case close to the rules.

Useragent parse tree model

According to RFC-2616 a useragent consists of set of products. Each with an (optional) version and an (optional) comment block.

After much analysis the model that this parser uses it as follows:

The whole string (the 'agent') is mostly cut into 'product' and 'text' parts. Each child node in the tree is numbered (1,2,3,...) within the context of the parent. A product has zero or more 'version' fields and zero or more 'comments' fields. Each comments' has one or more 'entry': In a comment block like this 'foo/1.0 (one; two three; four)' we will have 3 entries (they are ; separated).

From there the system recurses down within limitations.

Flattened form of the tree

If we take this useragent as an example the tree is flattened into a set of 'breadcrumb' type paths.

I put some spaces in various places so you can see what happens with those (in most places they are trimmed):

foo/1.0 ( one  ; two three; four  ) bar/2.0 (five;six seven)

will result in these paths (with their textual value)

agent="foo/1.0 ( one  ; two three; four  ) bar/2.0 (five;six seven)"
agent.(1)product="foo/1.0 ( one  ; two three; four  )"
agent.(1)product.(1)comments="( one  ; two three; four  )"
agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry="two three"
agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[1-2]="two three"
agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text="two three"
agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[1-2]="two three"
agent.(2)product="bar/2.0 (five;six seven)"
agent.(2)product.(1)comments="(five;six seven)"
agent.(2)product.(1)comments.(2)entry="six seven"
agent.(2)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[1-2]="six seven"
agent.(2)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text="six seven"
agent.(2)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[1-2]="six seven"

As you can see there are a few special operators that allow comparing and extracting specific words.

Walking around the tree

In many cases we want to get the version of the product with a specific name. This means we should look to the product with that name and from there go 'up' to the product and from there select the 'version'.

For this purpose a special language has been created that allows walking through a tree from the point where a match was found and do additional compare and string manipulation actions to obtain the value we are looking for.

This language also supports lookups (hashmaps) that do a case INsensitive lookup.

Note that for finding a matching pattern the system will recurse through the parse tree from left to right. The FIRST matching pattern is used for the end result.

For demonstrating the operators I'm using this user agent to explain the effects:

foo faa/1.0 2.3 (one; two three four) bar baz/2.0 3.0 (five; six seven)

Available operators:

Walking around the tree

Operation Symbol Example Result value (if applicable)
Up to parent ^ agent.(1)^ agent.(1)product
Next Sibling > agent.(1)product> agent.(2)product
Previous Sibling < agent.(2)product< agent.(1)product
Down to child .name agent.(1)product.version
Down to specific child .(2)version agent.(1)product.(2)version
Down to specific child range .(2-3)version agent.(1)product.(2-3)version
Down to specific child range .(2-)version agent.(1)product.(2-)version
Down to specific child range .(-5)version agent.(1)product.(-5)version

Comparing values in the tree

Operation Symbol Example Result value (if applicable) Explain
Equals = agent.(1)product.version="2.3" agent.(1)product.(2)version The second version is "2.3"
Not equals != agent.(1)product.version!="1.0" agent.(1)product.(2)version The second version is the first one when backtracking that is not "1.0"
Contains ~"ar" agent.(2)product.(1)name="bar baz" The first product name when backtracking that contains "ar"
Starts with {{"b" agent.(2)product.(1)name="bar baz" The first product name when backtracking that starts with "b"
Ends with }}"z" agent.(2)product.(1)name="bar baz" The first product name when backtracking that ends with "z"
(Key)set contains ? agent.(3)product.(1)name The name of the third product was present in the defined set of values. This set may be a "set" or a "lookup" in the last case only the keys of this lookup will be evaluated

Extracting substrings

Note this fact agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text="one two three four five"

Operation Symbol Example Value
First N Words [-N] agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[-3] one two three
Single Word at position N [N] agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[3] three
A range of words N-M [N-M] agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[2-4] two three four
All words to the end starting at N [N-] agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[3-] three four five
Back to full value @ agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[2]="three"
one two three four five

Special operations

Operation Symbol Example Result value (if applicable)
Check if the expresssion resulted in a null 'no match' value. IsNull[expression] IsNull[agent.(1)product.(3)name] true
Cleanup the version from an _ separated to a . separated string CleanVersion[expression] CleanVersion["1_2_3"] 1.2.3
LookUp the value against a lookup table LookUp[lookupname;expression] LookUp[OSNames;agent.product.entry.text]
LookUp the value against a lookup table (with fallback in case no match) LookUp[lookupname;expression;defaultvalue] LookUp[OSNames;agent.product.entry.text;"Unknown"]
LookUp the value against a lookup table and return the value where the key is the longest matching prefix of the value. LookUpPrefix[lookupname;expression] LookUpPrefix[OSNames;agent.product.entry.text]
LookUp the value against a lookup table and return the value where the key is the longest matching prefix of the value (with fallback in case no match). LookUpPrefix[lookupname;expression;defaultvalue] LookUpPrefix[OSNames;agent.product.entry.text;"Unknown"]
LookUp the value against a lookup table and return the original value if a matching prefix is present. IsInLookUpPrefix[lookupname;expression] IsInLookUpPrefix[OSNames;agent.product.entry.text]
Put a fixed string before an expression Concat[value;expression] Concat["Something";agent.product.entry.text]
Put a fixed string after an expression Concat[expression;value] Concat[agent.product.entry.text;"Something"]
Surround the expression with both a prefix and a postfix Concat[value;expression;value] Concat["Something";agent.product.entry.text;"Something"]

Chaining operators

An extensive example of walking around to get the right value.

foo faa/1.0/2.3 (one; two three four) bar baz/2.0/3.0 (five; six seven)
Expression Current path Value
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven" agent.(2)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)text[2] seven
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^ agent.(2)product.(1)comments.(2)entry six seven
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^ agent.(2)product.(1)comments (five; six seven)
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^ agent.(2)product bar baz/2.0/3.0 (five; six seven)
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^< agent.(1)product foo faa/1.0/2.3 (one; two three four)
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name agent.(1)product.(1)name foo faa
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa" agent.(1)product.(1)name foo faa
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa"^ agent.(1)product foo faa/1.0/2.3 (one; two three four)
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa"^.comments agent.(1)product.(1)comments (one; two three four)
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa"^.comments.entry agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(1)entry one
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa"^.comments.entry.text[2]="three" agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[2] three
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa"^.comments.entry.text[2]="three"@ agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry two three four
agent.product.(1)comments.entry.(1)text[2]="seven"^^^<.name="foo faa"^.comments.entry.text[2]="three"@[1] agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[1] two

Note that the first possible match is returned. If a child sibling or check fails the backtracking continues until the entire parse tree has been examined.

I created a test that shows all of the debug output of this example: unit test and yaml file

This can also be run from the commandline using:

mvn -Dtest=DocumentationExample -DfailIfNoTests=false test

Creating a new rule

Assume we got this useragent

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)

and let's just assume we want to set a field called MinorFooVersion if the minor version of Foo is 1

To start we put the agent as a new test in one of the yaml files. If we choose to create a new file make sure is starts with "config:"

- test:
      user_agent_string: 'Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)'

Now we run the unit test "TestPredefinedBrowsers". On a normal computer this will take only about 1-5 seconds.

The output contains all the field values for this useragent in the exact form of a unit test.

So once you are happy with the result you can simply copy and past this into the yaml file.

In this case is looks something like this:

- test:
#    options:
#    - 'verbose'
#    - 'init'
#    - 'only'
      user_agent_string: 'Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)'
      DeviceClass                          : 'Unknown'
      DeviceName                           : 'Unknown'
      OperatingSystemClass                 : 'Unknown'
      OperatingSystemName                  : 'Unknown'
      OperatingSystemVersion               : '??'
      LayoutEngineClass                    : 'Browser'
      LayoutEngineName                     : 'Mozilla'
      LayoutEngineVersion                  : '5.0'
      LayoutEngineVersionMajor             : '5'
      LayoutEngineNameVersion              : 'Mozilla 5.0'
      LayoutEngineNameVersionMajor         : 'Mozilla 5'
      AgentClass                           : 'Browser'
      AgentName                            : 'Foo'
      AgentVersion                         : '3.1'
      AgentVersionMajor                    : '3'
      AgentNameVersion                     : 'Foo 3.1'
      AgentNameVersionMajor                : 'Foo 3'

The output also contains all hard checked paths in the tree in the rough form of a matcher.

- matcher:
#    options:
#    - 'verbose'
#    - '__SyntaxError__="false"'
#    - 'agent="Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product="Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product[1-1]="Mozilla"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product[1-2]="Mozilla/5"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product[2-2]="5"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product[1-3]="Mozilla/5.0"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product[3-3]="0"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)name="Mozilla"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)name[1-1]="Mozilla"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)version="5.0"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)version[1-1]="5"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)version[1-2]="5.0"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)version[2-2]="0"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments="(compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(1)entry="compatible"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(1)entry[1-1]="compatible"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(1)entry.(1)text="compatible"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(1)entry.(1)text[1-1]="compatible"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry="Foo/3.1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[1-1]="Foo"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[1-2]="Foo/3"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[2-2]="3"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[1-3]="Foo/3.1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry[3-3]="1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product="Foo/3.1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product[1-1]="Foo"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product[1-2]="Foo/3"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product[2-2]="3"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product[1-3]="Foo/3.1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product[3-3]="1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product.(1)name="Foo"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product.(1)name[1-1]="Foo"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product.(1)version="3.1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product.(1)version[1-1]="3"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product.(1)version[1-2]="3.1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(2)entry.(1)product.(1)version[2-2]="1"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(3)entry="Bar"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(3)entry[1-1]="Bar"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(3)entry.(1)text="Bar"'
#    - 'agent.(1)product.(1)comments.(3)entry.(1)text[1-1]="Bar"'
#    - 'DeviceClass           :   1:'
#    - 'DeviceBrand           :   1:'
#    - 'DeviceName            :   1:'
#    - 'OperatingSystemClass  :   1:'
#    - 'OperatingSystemName   :   1:'
#    - 'OperatingSystemVersion:   1:'
#    - 'LayoutEngineClass     :   1:'
#    - 'LayoutEngineName      :   1:'
#    - 'LayoutEngineVersion   :   1:'
#    - 'AgentClass            :   1:'
#    - 'AgentName             :   1:'
#    - 'AgentVersion          :   1:'

In our case we are only interested in the second digit of the version of the product named "Foo"

So we copy this and make it like this:

- matcher:
    - 'MinorFooVersion :   1:agent.(1)product.(1)comments.entry.(1)product.(1)name="Foo"^.version[2]'

What this does is that in the first product, in the first set of comments there is at any position an entry that contains as the first element a product who's name is "Foo" that we go up in the tree and then down to the version of that product and then take the second word.

Now if we run the unit test again we will see this:

- test:
#    options:
#    - 'verbose'
#    - 'init'
#    - 'only'
      user_agent_string: 'Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)'
      DeviceClass                          : 'Unknown'
      DeviceName                           : 'Unknown'
      OperatingSystemClass                 : 'Unknown'
      OperatingSystemName                  : 'Unknown'
      OperatingSystemVersion               : '??'
      LayoutEngineClass                    : 'Browser'
      LayoutEngineName                     : 'Mozilla'
      LayoutEngineVersion                  : '5.0'
      LayoutEngineVersionMajor             : '5'
      LayoutEngineNameVersion              : 'Mozilla 5.0'
      LayoutEngineNameVersionMajor         : 'Mozilla 5'
      AgentClass                           : 'Browser'
      AgentName                            : 'Foo'
      AgentVersion                         : '3.1'
      AgentVersionMajor                    : '3'
      AgentNameVersion                     : 'Foo 3.1'
      AgentNameVersionMajor                : 'Foo 3'
      MinorFooVersion                      : '1'

As you can see this clearly shows that a new field has been added with the value we wanted.

If you want to change or add more rules then simply iterate over the steps until you have the end result you think is good. Then simply copy the end 'test' into the yaml file and save.

If you are detecting a new field or a new value for an existing field then be aware that this may also apply to tests that are already present in the system. For all tests to pass these must be updated also.

You can choose to use this in a more "Test Driven Development" model also. Simply run the unit test, copy the 'raw testcase' into the yaml file and edit the values to what they should be and work from there.

If you run it this way your will get a 'failed test' which yields a bit of extra output. For the sake of demo if I simply put this testcase in the yaml file

- test:
      user_agent_string: 'Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Foo/3.1; Bar)'
      AgentClass                           : 'Browser'
      AgentName                            : 'Foo'
      AgentVersion                         : '3.1'
      AgentVersionMajor                    : '3'
      AgentNameVersion                     : 'Foo 3.1'
      AgentNameVersionMajor                : 'Foo 3'
      MinorFooVersion                      : '1'

This would also show as test output:

INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:320 - +--------+------------------------------+-------------+------------+------------+
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:337 - | Result | Field                        | Actual      | Confidence | Expected   |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:339 - +--------+------------------------------+-------------+------------+------------+
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | DeviceClass                  | Unknown     |         -1 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | DeviceName                   | Unknown     |         -1 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | OperatingSystemClass         | Unknown     |         -1 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | OperatingSystemName          | Unknown     |         -1 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | OperatingSystemVersion       | ??          |         -1 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | LayoutEngineClass            | Browser     |          3 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | LayoutEngineName             | Mozilla     |          3 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | LayoutEngineVersion          | 5.0         |          3 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | LayoutEngineVersionMajor     | 5           |          3 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | LayoutEngineNameVersion      | Mozilla 5.0 |          3 | <<absent>> |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | LayoutEngineNameVersionMajor | Mozilla 5   |          3 | <<absent>> |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:371 - |        | AgentClass                   | Browser     |         10 |            |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:371 - |        | AgentName                    | Foo         |         10 |            |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:371 - |        | AgentVersion                 | 3.1         |         10 |            |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:371 - |        | AgentVersionMajor            | 3           |         10 |            |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:371 - |        | AgentNameVersion             | Foo 3.1     |         10 |            |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:371 - |        | AgentNameVersionMajor        | Foo 3       |         10 |            |
ERROR UserAgentAnalyzerTester:381 - | -FAIL- | MinorFooVersion              | <<<null>>>  |          0 | 1          |
INFO  UserAgentAnalyzerTester:386 - +--------+------------------------------+-------------+------------+------------+

As you can see the system will fail on missing fields, unexpected fields and wrong values.

If you create rules that in one of the test cases produce for the same field different values with the same confidence then the test will fail with messages like this:

 - ***********************************************************
 - ***********************************************************
 - Found different value for "OperatingSystemName" with SAME confidence 10: "RIM OS" and "BlackBerry"
 - Found different value for "OperatingSystemName" with SAME confidence 10: "RIM OS" and "BlackBerry"
 - Found different value for "OperatingSystemName" with SAME confidence 10: "RIM OS" and "BlackBerry"
 - Found different value for "OperatingSystemVersion" with SAME confidence 10: "RIM OS" and "??"
 - Found different value for "OperatingSystemVersion" with SAME confidence 10: "RIM OS" and "??"
 - Found different value for "OperatingSystemVersion" with SAME confidence 10: "RIM OS" and "??"

Note that these do not need to be the 'winning' value. The existence of the ambiguity is enough to fail.

Wiping values

In some cases a previously defined value needs to be erased with a higher confidence. To achieve this simply set the value to <<<null>>>

In addition there is a way to set all variables to a certain value by setting the special value __Set_ALL_Fields__

Because the ordering is defined by the confidence numbers you must make sure the confidence of the new values are at least 1 higher than the confidence of the __Set_ALL_Fields__.

Both of these can be combined into

   - '__Set_ALL_Fields__    :   99:"<<<null>>>"'

Note that ALL fields with a confidence below 99 will be wiped. So the field values you set in this matcher must all be 1 higher than this or it will wipe itself too.

Performance considerations

Note that in order to optimize the performance the paths that lead directly to a point in the tree are placed in a hashmap for very fast lookup.

Only if all 'direct paths' in a matcher are found only then the walking of those rules is attempted.

So one of the rules looks like this

- matcher:
    - 'agent.product.(1)name="Chrome"'
    - 'LookUp[ChromeLayoutEngineName;agent.product.(1)name="Chrome"^.version[1]]'
    - 'agent.product.(1)name="AppleWebKit"^.version[1]="537"'
    - 'agent.product.(1)version[1]="537"' # This is a matching speedup trick
    - 'LayoutEngineClass     :   1000:"Browser"'
    - 'LayoutEngineName      :   1000:"AppleWebKit"'
    - 'LayoutEngineVersion   :   1000:agent.product.(1)name="AppleWebKit"^.version'

The agent.product.(1)version[1]="537" is found immediately while walking through the parsed tree. So if this one is not present then the other check "Is the version of AppleWebKit equals to 537" and the lookup are not even attempted. These kinds of tricks will speedup parsing.


There is the option of predefining a value which is then usable by all rules in a matcher.

A variable is simply a named point in the tree that is found only once and the reused as-is by the other rules within the same matcher. A variable is also always in essence a 'require', it must be present for the matcher as a whole to continue. You can only reference a variable by name in a later variable. This is because they are evaluated in the order in which they appear in the definition in the file. The variable name follows a similar pattern as variable names in languages like Java: [a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9]+ When referencing a variable (by means of @name) in an expression you must see it as a point in the tree that happens to have a name.

This looks like this:

- matcher:
    - 'Chrome : agent.product.(1)name="Chrome"'
    - 'AppleWebKitVersion : agent.product.(1)name="AppleWebKit"^.version'
    - 'LookUp[ChromeLayoutEngineName;@Chrome^.version[1]]'
    - '@AppleWebKitVersion[1]="537"'
    - 'agent.product.(1)version[1]="537"' # This is a matching speedup trick
    - 'LayoutEngineClass     :   1000:"Browser"'
    - 'LayoutEngineName      :   1000:"AppleWebKit"'
    - 'LayoutEngineVersion   :   1000:@AppleWebKitVersion'

Note that the backtracking stops when the variable finds its first match. So when defined like this:

- 'Something: 1: agent.product.(1)name="AppleWebKit"^.version'

it may find after backtracking that the 5th product matches


Yet when defined like this

- 'productname: agent.product.(1)name'
- 'Something: 1: @productname="AppleWebKit"^.version'

it will stay at the first product and never find the 5th product at all.

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