I came across an interesting problem today that got 3 hrs wasted for no good reason. In my application, I have templates and I replace variables with values that are read from a file. And I use the plain old String.replaceAll to do the job. So it happened this afternoon that I landed upon the following error:

java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Illegal group reference 
at java.util.regex.Matcher.appendReplacement(Matcher.java:713)  
at java.util.regex.Matcher.replaceAll(Matcher.java:813) 
at java.lang.String.replaceAll(String.java:2189)

As informative as it is, I did a bit of debugging and read a few articles only to realise that it was a dollar sign ($) in one of the values that was causing the issue. Now the deal is that Java regex uses the $ sign as a group separator and so it does not like that to appear in the text. Suggestions on the net include escaping the $ with back slashes but no matter how many slashes I put, it did not work.  So I wrote a simple little hack:

static String escapeForRegex(String text) {

    if (text.contains("$")) {

        StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer();

        for (char c : text.toCharArray()) {

            if (c == '$') {
            } else {

        text = sb.toString();

    return text;

And when you are done with all replacements on the string, just do a

text.replaceAll("__DOLLAR_SIGN__", "\\$")

I know, its a hack. Unfortunately I haven't found a better way out yet. Posting so that if somebody needs it in desperate times, he does not have to spend 3 hrs on it.