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"...He did ask for a learning exercise..."

Yes, but i didn't reply to the OP.

"...break the composite fields down..."

Yes, sure. Perhaps like this:

karls-mac-mini:monks karl$ perl -E ' say split /[\[\]]/, qq([22/Apr/20 +15:13:35:04 +1000])' 22/Apr/2015:13:35:04 +1000 karls-mac-mini:monks karl$ perl -E ' say split /"/, qq("GET /bin/admin HTTP/1.1")' GET /bin/ HTTP/1.1 karls-mac-mini:monks karl$ perl -E 'say join "\t", split /\s/, qq(GET +/bin/ HTTP/1.1)' GET /bin/ HTTP/1.1 # usw...

I just wanted to show wrog that a solution that only uses split is possible.

Another question is this it is desirable if this is desirable. I guess some may call it abuse.

Edit: Better wording.

Best regards, Karl

«The Crux of the Biscuit is the Apostrophe»

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