ack = a better grep "ignores most of the crap you don't want to search"

If you’ve ever use grep to search a svn directory you’ll know the issues re .svn folders, easiest solution is to use ack

Why

ack is a tool like grep, optimized for programmers Andy Lester http://betterthangrep.com

How to install

curl http://betterthangrep.com/ack-standalone >  ~/bin/ack &&; chmod 0755 !#:3

Top reasons to use ack instead of grep

  • It’s blazingly fast because it only searches the stuff you want searched.
  • ack is pure Perl, so it runs on Windows just fine.
  • The standalone version uses no non-standard modules, so you can put it in your ~/bin without fear.
  • Searches recursively through directories by default, while ignoring .svn, CVS and other VCS directories.
  • ack ignores most of the crap you don’t want to search
    • VCS directories
    • blib, the Perl build directory
    • backup files like foo~ and #foo#
    • binary files, core dumps, etc
  • Ignoring .svn directories means that ack is faster than grep for searching through trees
  • Lets you specify file types to search, as in –perl or –nohtml
    • ack -f --perl > all-perl-files
  • Color highlighting of search results

Examples

Which would you rather type?

$ grep pattern $(find . -type f | grep -v '\.svn')

or

$ ack pattern

also

grep pattern $(find . -name '*.pl' -or -name '*.pm' -or -name '*.pod' | grep -v .svn)

versus

ack --perl pattern
  • Note that ack’s --perl also checks the shebang lines of files without suffixes, which the find command will not

Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly

Web Developer, Business Analytics, Data Engineer specialising in PHP, ReactJS, Tableau, AWS RedShift and Matillion ETL

Based in Melbourne, Australia

Feel free to contact me justin@kelly.org.au or _justin_kelly

Leave a comment

Name Notify me of replies by email.