To install this package, run in Emacs:
M-x package-install RET el-search RET
This package implements an expression based interactive search tool for Emacs Lisp files and buffers. The pattern language used is a superset of `pcase' patterns. "el-search" is multi file/buffer search capable. It is designed to be fast and easy to use. It offers an occur-like overview of matches and can do query-replace based on the same set of patterns. All searches are added to a history and can be resumed or restarted later. Finally, it allows you to define your own kinds of search patterns and your own multi-search commands. Key bindings ============ Loading this file doesn't install any key bindings - but you maybe want some. There are two predefined installable schemes of key bindings. The first scheme defines bindings mostly of the form "Control-Shift-Letter", e.g. C-S, C-R, C-% etc. These can be installed by calling (el-search-install-shift-bindings) - typically from your init file. For console users (and others), the function `el-search-install-bindings-under-prefix' installs bindings of the form PREFIX LETTER. If you call (el-search-install-bindings-under-prefix [(meta ?s) ?e]) you install bindings M-s e s, M-s e r, M-s e % etc. When using this function to install key bindings, installed bindings are "repeatable" where it makes sense so that you can for example hit M-s e j s s s a % to reactive the last search, go to the next match three times, then go back to the first match in the current buffer, and finally invoke `el-search-query-replace'. It follows a complete list of key bindings installed when you call (el-search-install-shift-bindings) or (el-search-install-bindings-under-prefix [(meta ?s) ?e]) respectively. If you don't want to install any key bindings, you want to remember the command name "el-search-pattern" or its alias "el-search" to get a start, and that after starting a search C-h will give you access to some help commands; among other things C-h b listing the relevant key bindings for controlling a search. C-S, M-s e s (`el-search-pattern') Start a search in the current buffer/go to the next match. While searching, the searched buffer is current (not the minibuffer). All commands that are not search or scrolling commands terminate the search, while the state of the search is always automatically saved. Like in isearch you can also just hit RET to exit or C-g to abort and jump back to where you started. C-h (aka the `help-char') C-h offers access to some help commands special to el-search when a search is active. Among other things C-h b (or ?) gives you a list of bindings to control the search. C-R, M-s e r (`el-search-pattern-backward') Search backward. C-%, M-s e % (`el-search-query-replace') Do a query-replace. M-x el-search-directory Prompt for a directory name and start a multi el-search for all Emacs-Lisp files in that directory. With prefix arg, recursively search files in subdirectories. C-S, M-s e s in Dired (`el-search-dired-marked-files') Like above but uses the marked files and directories. C-S, M-s e s in Ibuffer (`el-search-ibuffer-marked-buffers') Search marked buffers in *Ibuffer*. C-O, M-s e o (`el-search-occur') Pop up an occur buffer for the current search. C-O or M-RET (from a search pattern prompt) Execute this search command as occur. C-X, M-s e x (`el-search-continue-in-next-buffer') Skip over current buffer or file. C-D, M-s e d (`el-search-skip-directory') Prompt for a directory name and skip all subsequent files located under this directory. C-A, M-s e a, M-s e < (`el-search-from-beginning') Go back to the first match in this buffer or (with positive prefix arg) completely restart the current search from the first file or buffer. With negative prefix arg, or with >, go to the last match in the current buffer. C-J, M-s e j (`el-search-jump-to-search-head') Resume the last search from the position of the last visited match. With prefix arg 0, resume from the position of the match following point instead. With prefix arg 1 or -1, jump to the first or last match visible in the selected window. This can be useful even when a search is current, e.g. after scrolling the searched buffer. With a plain C-u prefix arg, prompt for a former search to resume. C-S-next, v when search is active (`el-search-scroll-down') C-S-prior, V when search is active (`el-search-scroll-up') Scrolling by matches: Select the first match after `window-end', or select the first match before `window-start', respectively. C-H, M-s e h (`el-search-this-sexp') Grab the symbol or sexp under point and initiate an el-search for other occurrences. M-x el-search-to-register Save the current search to an Emacs register. Use C-x r j (`jump-to-register') to make that search current and jump to the latest position. The setup you need for your init file is trivial: you only need to install the key bindings you want to use. All important commands are autoloaded. Usage ===== The main user entry point `el-search-pattern' (C-S or M-s e s) is analogue to `isearch-forward'. You are prompted for a `pcase'-style search pattern using an `emacs-lisp-mode' minibuffer. After hitting RET it searches the current buffer from point for matching expressions. For any match, point is put at the beginning of the expression found (unlike isearch which puts point at the end of matches). Hit C-S or s again to go to the next match etc. Syntax and semantics of search patterns are identical to that of `pcase' patterns, plus additionally defined pattern types especially useful for matching parts of programs. It doesn't matter how code is formatted. Comments are ignored, and strings are treated as atomic objects (their contents are not being searched). Example 1: if you enter 97 at the prompt, el-search will find any occurrence of the integer 97 in the code, but not 97.0 or 977 or (+ 90 7) or "My string containing 97" or symbol_97. OTOH it will find any printed representation of 97, e.g. #x61 or ?a. Example 2: If you enter the pattern `(defvar ,_) you search for all `defvar' forms that don't specify an init value. The following pattern will search for `defvar's with a docstring whose first line is longer than 70 characters: `(defvar ,_ ,_ ,(and (pred stringp) s (guard (< 70 (length (car (split-string s "\n"))))))) Put simply, el-search is a tool for matching representations of symbolic expressions written in a buffer or file. Most of the time, but not necessarily, this is Elisp code. El-search has no semantic understanding of the meaning of these s-exps as a program per se. If you define a macro `my-defvar' that expands to `defvar' forms, the pattern `(defvar ,_) will not match any equivalent `my-defvar' form, it just matches any lists of two elements with the first element being the symbol `defvar'. You can define your own pattern types with macro `el-search-defpattern' which is analogue to `defmacro' (and `pcase-defmacro'). See C-h f `el-search-defined-patterns' for a list of predefined additional pattern types, and C-h f pcase for the basic pcase patterns. Some additional pattern definitions can be found in the file "el-search-x.el" which is part of this package but not automatically loaded. Multi Searching =============== "el-search" is capable of performing "multi searches" - searches spanning multiple files or buffers. When no more matches can be found in the current file or buffer, the search automatically switches to the next one. Examples for search commands that start a multi search are `el-search-buffers' (search all live elisp mode buffers), `el-search-directory' (search all elisp files in a specified directory), `el-search-emacs-elisp-sources' and `el-search-dired-marked-files'. Actually, every search is internally a multi search. You can pause any search by just doing something different (no explicit quitting needed); the state of the search is automatically saved. You can later continue searching by calling `el-search-jump-to-search-head' (C-J; M-s e j): this command jumps to the last match and re-activates the search. `el-search-continue-in-next-buffer' (C-X; x) skips all remaining matches in the current buffer and continues searching in the next buffer. `el-search-skip-directory' (C-D; d) even skips all subsequent files under a specified directory. El-Occur ======== To get an occur-like overview you can use the usual commands. You can either hit C-O or M-RET from the pattern prompt instead of RET to confirm your input and start the search as noninteractive occur search in the first place. Alternatively, you can always call `el-search-occur' (C-O or o) to start an occur for the latest started search. The *El Occur* buffer uses an adjusted emacs-lisp-mode. RET on a match gives you a pop-up window displaying the position of the match in that buffer or file. With S-tab you can (un)collapse all file sections like in `org-mode' to see only file names and the number of matches, or everything. Tab folds and unfolds expressions (this uses hideshow) and also sections at the beginning of headlines. Multiple multi searches ======================= Every search is collected in a history. You can resume older searches from the position of the last match by calling `el-search-jump-to-search-head' (C-J; M-s e j) with a prefix argument. That let's you select an older search to resume and switches to the buffer and position where this search had been suspended. Like any search you can restart the search driving an `el-search-query-replace' with C-u C-A or C-u M-s e a respectively. Query-replace ============= You can replace expressions with command `el-search-query-replace'. You are queried for a pattern and a replacement expression. For each match of the pattern, the replacement expression is evaluated with the bindings created by pattern matching in effect and printed to a string to produce the replacement. Example: In some buffer you want to swap the two expressions at the places of the first two arguments in all calls of function `foo', so that e.g. (foo 'a (* 2 (+ 3 4)) t) becomes (foo (* 2 (+ 3 4)) 'a t). This will do it: C-% (or M-s e %) `(foo ,a ,b . ,rest) RET `(foo ,b ,a . ,rest) RET Type y to replace a match and go to the next one, r to replace without moving (hitting r again restores that match), n to go to the next match without replacing and ! to replace all remaining matches automatically. q quits. ? shows a quick help summarizing all of these keys. It is possible to replace a match with an arbitrary number of expressions using "splicing mode". When it is active, the replacement expression must evaluate to a list, and is spliced into the buffer for any match. Hit s from the prompt to toggle splicing mode in an `el-search-query-replace' session. There are two ways to edit replacements directly while performing an el-search-query-replace: (1) Without suspending the search: hit o at the prompt to show the replacement of the current match in a separate buffer. You can edit the replacement in this buffer. Confirming with C-c C-c will make el-search replace the current match with this buffer's contents. (2) At any time you can interrupt a query-replace session by hitting RET. Make your edits, then resume the query-replace session by hitting C-S-j C-% or M-s e j %. Multi query-replace =================== To query-replace in multiple files or buffers at once, call `el-search-query-replace' directly after starting a search whose search domain is the set of files and buffers you want to treat. Answer "yes" to the prompt asking whether you want the started search to drive the query-replace. The user interface is self-explanatory. It is always possible to resume an aborted query-replace session even if you did other stuff in the meantime (including other `el-search-query-replace' invocations). Since internally every query-replace is driven by a search, call `el-search-jump-to-search-head' to make that search current, and invoke `el-search-query-replace'. This will continue the query-replace session from where you left. Advanced usage: Replacement rules for semi-automatic code rewriting =================================================================== When you want to rewrite larger code parts programmatically, it can often be useful to define a dedicated pattern type to perform the replacement. Here is an example: You heard that in many situations, `dolist' is faster than an equivalent `mapc'. You use `mapc' quite often in your code and want to query-replace many occurrences in your stuff. Instead of using an ad hoc replacing rule, it's cleaner to define a dedicated named pattern type using `el-search-defpattern'. Make this pattern accept an argument and use it to bind a replacement expression to a variable you specify. In query-replace, specify that variable as replacement expression. In our case, the pattern could look like this: (el-search-defpattern el-search-mapc->dolist (new) (let ((var (make-symbol "var")) (body (make-symbol "body")) (list (make-symbol "list"))) `(and `(mapc (lambda (,,var) . ,,body) ,,list) (let ,new `(dolist (,,var ,,list) . ,,body))))) The first condition in the `and' performs the matching and binds the essential parts of the `mapc' form to helper variables. The second, the `let', part, binds the specified variable NEW to the rewritten expression - in our case, a `dolist' form is constructed with the remembered code parts filled in. Now after this preparatory work, for `el-search-query-replace' you can simply specify (literally!) the following rule: (el-search-mapc->dolist repl) -> repl Acknowledgments =============== Thanks to Manuela for our review sessions. Thanks to Stefan Monnier for corrections and advice. Known Limitations and Bugs ========================== - Replacing: in some cases the read syntax of forms is changing due to reading-printing. "Some" because we can handle this problem in most cases. - Something like (1 #1#) is unmatchable (because it is un`read'able without context). - In el-search-query-replace, replacements are not allowed to contain uninterned symbols. - The `l' pattern type is very slow for very long lists. E.g. C-S-e (l "test") - Emacs bug#30132: 27.0.50; "scan-sexps and ##": Occurrences of the syntax "##" (a syntax for an interned symbol whose name is the empty string) can lead to errors while searching. TODO: - Add org and/or Info documentation - Could we profit from the edebug-read-storing-offsets reader? - Make currently hardcoded bindings in `el-search-loop-over-bindings' configurable - When reading input, bind up and down to next-line-or-history-element and previous-line-or-history-element? - Make searching work in comments, too? (-> `parse-sexp-ignore-comments'). Related: should the pattern `symbol' also match strings that contain matches for a symbol so that it's possible to replace occurrences of a symbol in docstrings? - Port this package to non Emacs Lisp modes? How? Would it already suffice using only syntax tables, sexp scanning and font-lock? - There could be something much better than pp to format the replacement, or pp should be improved. NEWS: NEWS are listed in the separate NEWS file.
Some of the user visible news were: Version: 1.11.3 When copying large parts of an *El Occur* buffer to the kill ring (large here means "includes file headlines"), or you save an *El Occur* buffer, matches are surrounded with --> <-- text markers so that they are better visible when you send the output to someone else, for example. This can be turned off or be configured with the new user option 'el-search-occur-match-markers'. Version: 1.11.1 Eldoc now displays signatures of search patterns for the search pattern prompt. Some 'display-buffer' actions have been slightly changed. Version: 1.10.2 New help command 'el-search-list-defined-patterns' listing all currently defined pattern types. Version: 1.10.1 El-search now shows hints in the search pattern prompt when the new user option 'el-search-display-mb-hints' is non-nil (the default). This includes pointing to errors in the input and showing a match count preview. Version: 1.9.7 Changed default binding schemes: For reasons of harmonization, in both searches and in el-search-occur both of basic keys s, r and n, p now move to the next or previous match. The default binding of 'el-search-continue-in-next-buffer' therefore has been moved from n to x respectively. Version: 1.9.5 'string' and derived pattern types now support expressions evaluting to regexps as arguments. This means you can use 'rx' to construct regexps in 'string' patterns, for example. Version: 1.9.0 This version adds some help commands available through the C-h help prefix. Version: 1.8.4 Quitting (C-g) while el-searching now brings you back to the starting point like in isearch. Version: 1.8.3 `el-search-query-replace' now adds undo boundaries for each manual replacement so that afterwards `undo' undoes replacements step-by-step similar to vanilla `query-replace'. Version: 1.8 Several improvements in `el-search-query-replace': It's now possible to edit the replacement in a separate buffer without interrupting `el-search-query-replace', and to ediff the current replacement with the current match (new keys 'o' and 'e'). Hitting the 'r' key now toggles between replacing a match without moving and restoring the match. After replacing a match with 'r', the key to go to the next match changed from 'n' to 'y' which should feel more natural. Depending on the value of the new user option `el-search-query-replace-stop-for-comments', `el-search-query-replace' can now interrupt automatic replacement when it's not able to unumbigously assign comments in the current match to the replacement. Version: 1.7.15 *El Occur* buffers are now initially unfolded. Version: 1.7.8 Similar to isearch, el-search now opens invisible text. Version: 1.7.7 The new scroll commands `el-search-scroll-down' and `el-search-scroll-up', bound to C-S-next and C-S-prior, or v and V respectively, perform by-match scrolling: `el-search-scroll-down' scrolls the next matches after `window-end' into view, i.e. it selects the first match after `window-end'. Likewise, `el-search-scroll-up' selects the last match before `window-start'. You can now explicitly terminate (pause) search and query-replace sessions by hitting RET. Version: 1.7.5 The meaning of the prefix argument of `el-search-jump-to-search-head' (C-J or M-s e j with the default bindings) has been extended: A numeric prefix N jumps to the Nth match after `window-start', while a negative prefix -N jumps to the Nth match before `window-end'. Prefix 0 jumps to the match following point, which is also useful to resume the current search from any buffer position. A former search can now be made current with a plain C-u prefix arg. Version: 1.7.3 Match highlighting faces have been improved to look better on text terminals. Matches in *El Occur* buffers are now highlighted with a separate face. Version: 1.7 Signature and semantics of non-interactive function `el-search-forward' have been further adapted to that of the vanilla search function `search-forward'. The counterpart `el-search-backward' has been added. The new key bindings < and > let you directly jump to the first and to the last match in a buffer. Version: 1.6.5 When the new user option `el-search-allow-scroll' is enabled (the default), scrolling doesn't deactivate the current el-search. Unlike isearch you can scroll the current match offscreen - use `el-search-jump-to-search-head' (C-J or M-s e j when using the suggested key bindings) to jump back to the current match. Version: 1.6.1 New function `el-search-looking-at', the el-search version of `looking-at'. Version: 1.5.2 The new command `el-search-to-register' allows to save the current search (including its state) to a register and later make that search current again with `jump-to-register' (C-x r j). Version: 1.5.1 The new command `el-search-ibuffer-marked-buffers' el-searches the marked buffers in *Ibuffer*. Version: 1.5 The new function `el-search-install-bindings-under-prefix' can be used to install repeatable versions of the el-search commands under a prefix key. Version: 126.96.36.199 The new option value 'ask-multi for el-search-auto-save-buffers, which is also the new default, makes el-search only prompt for whether to save buffers for multi-buffer query-replace sessions. For single buffer sessions, no prompt, and you can/should save yourself. I find that behavior slightly more convenient than 'ask in most cases.