Skip to main content

Doing Multiple Searches in VS Code While Refactoring

I spend a lot of my time refactoring code across a very large, legacy codebase at work. Often times, I'll do a search for something and work my way through the results over a period of days. Sometimes, something I see might lead me to do another search and a minor refactoring job which is part of the overall refactoring job. Hence, sometimes I end up with a "stack" of different searches which represents all the parts of the overall refactoring job. In each of these search results, it's important to not "lose my place" as I go down the list.

WebStorm / IntelliJ / PyCharm support this workflow really well:

Notice, I have multiple search tabs open at the same time (which is missing from VS Code). I can cross things off the list (which you can do in VS Code via deleting the item). And I don't lose my place in the list when I edit the code (another key benefit over VS Code).

NetBeans also lets you have multiple search result tabs at the same time.

It's not built into Sublime, but there's an extension for it called Open Search in a New Tab.

Atom lacks this feature. Here's the open issue.

As I mentioned, VS Code also lacks this feature. Here's the open issue.

I think that WebStorm / IntelliJ / PyCharm support this the best, but since I really wanted to give VS Code a solid try, I needed to come up with a workaround. My previous attempts at doing large, manual refactors in VS Code were incredibly painful since I could only have one set of search results open at a time, and anytime I edited the code, I lost my place in the search results. I finally figured out that you can run ag (i.e. The Silver Searcher) from the command line and have it automatically open up in a new tab. (There is an extension for ag, but it doesn't do what I want.) Here's my workflow:

Make sure you've already run the "Shell Command: Install 'code' command in PATH" command.

Make sure you've already installed ag. On Mac, I use:

brew install the_silver_searcher

Make sure you have at least the November 2017 version of VS Code.

Now, if you want to search for something, open up the terminal (which is built into VS Code) and type:

ag --group search_term directory | code - &

This will pop the search results into a new tab, and you can have as many tabs as you want. Since the results will be plain text, you can edit them if you'd like.

This workflow certainly isn't perfect, but it's a good solution for me given my need for multiple search result windows that I can make my way through slowly, marking things as I go.

Comments

jjinux said…
The "code -" part wasn't working for my buddy Andrei. It turned out, he still had a function named "code" in his bash profile. Typing "which code" wasn't returning anything. Once we deleted that function and then reinstalled the script, it worked.
jjinux said…
In order to click on the file names, you can install the "open file" extension.

When you do the search, the path names won't work out correctly for the "open file" extension unless you do the search like:

ag --group search_term `pwd`/some_sub_directory | code - &

Once you do that, you can right-click on the filename and then open that file.
jjinux said…
This was syndicated to DZone: https://dzone.com/articles/doing-multiple-searches-in-vs-code-while-refactori
jjinux said…
You can now export all the search results to a buffer. See this blog post.

Popular posts from this blog

Drawing Sierpinski's Triangle in Minecraft Using Python

In his keynote at PyCon, Eben Upton, the Executive Director of the Rasberry Pi Foundation, mentioned that not only has Minecraft been ported to the Rasberry Pi, but you can even control it with Python . Since four of my kids are avid Minecraft fans, I figured this might be a good time to teach them to program using Python. So I started yesterday with the goal of programming something cool for Minecraft and then showing it off at the San Francisco Python Meetup in the evening. The first problem that I faced was that I didn't have a Rasberry Pi. You can't hack Minecraft by just installing the Minecraft client. Speaking of which, I didn't have the Minecraft client installed either ;) My kids always play it on their Nexus 7s. I found an open source Minecraft server called Bukkit that "provides the means to extend the popular Minecraft multiplayer server." Then I found a plugin called RaspberryJuice that implements a subset of the Minecraft Pi modding API for B

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

Creating Windows 10 Boot Media for a Lenovo Thinkpad T410 Using Only a Mac and a Linux Machine

TL;DR: Giovanni and I struggled trying to get Windows 10 installed on the Lenovo Thinkpad T410. We struggled a lot trying to create the installation media because we only had a Mac and a Linux machine to work with. Everytime we tried to boot the USB thumb drive, it just showed us a blinking cursor. At the end, we finally realized that Windows 10 wasn't supported on this laptop :-/ I've heard that it took Thomas Edison 100 tries to figure out the right material to use as a lightbulb filament. Well, I'm no Thomas Edison, but I thought it might be noteworthy to document our attempts at getting it to boot off a USB thumb drive: Download the ISO. Attempt 1: Use Etcher. Etcher says it doesn't work for Windows. Attempt 2: Use Boot Camp Assistant. It doesn't have that feature anymore. Attempt 3: Use Disk Utility on a Mac. Erase a USB thumb drive: Format: ExFAT Scheme: GUID Partition Map Mount the ISO. Copy everything from