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How to search code with Sourcegraph — a cheat sheet

Sourcegraph is a universal code search tool, enabling you to search across both open source and your own private code repositories. Code search can help you onboard onto new codebases, contribute to open source, find bugs and error messages, understand dependency libraries, and more. You can use these commands on your own Sourcegraph instance, or try them out on Sourcegraph.com to search our index of open source repositories.

This cheat sheet style guide can help you get up to speed with Sourcegraph commands quickly. For more thorough tutorials on using Sourcegraph, refer to our documentation.

You can use these commands on either Sourcegraph.com or your own Sourcegraph instance.

Searching an organization’s repository

By default, Sourcegraph lets you search globally, providing you with results from all the repositories you have access to. This includes all currently indexed open source repositories. The repo command lets you dial down to the single repository level.

Searching for or within a repository

The repo keyword lets you search a specific repository in your organization or on the web.

repo:repository-path
repo:regular-pattern

Searching with repo:^github\.com/ORGANIZATION will return all repositories in a given organization, where ORGANIZATION can be sourcegraph, for example.

repo:^github\.com/sourcegraph/.*

The repo keyword contextualizes the searches you perform on Sourcegraph.

Repository search: command chaining

When searching a repository, command chaining can be used to return more specific results depending on the expected results.

Search for a repository that contains a file

If you are searching for a file or a file path in a repository, use repo:has.path.

repo:repository-path repo:has.path(file-path)

For example, when searching for the package.json file in a project, this search query will return the file.

repo:^github\.com/sourcegraph/.* repo:has.path(package.json)

Alternatively, you can use repo:has.file, which allows you to search for files containing content.

repo:has.file(path:package\.json$ content:tsconfig)

This query returns repositories that contain a package.json file containing the string tsconfig.

Search for a repository that contains some content

Suppose you are searching for some content in a repository, such as a library. Use repo:has.content.

repo:repo-path repo:has.content(your-content)
repo:repo-path repo:has.content(regular-pattern)

We can search for the mdi-react library in Sourcegraph, for example:

repo:^github\.com/sourcegraph/.* repo:has.content(mdi-react)

The above query returns repos that have mdi-react among its contents.

Use lang when searching code to narrow the scope of your search to one programming language.

lang:programming-language

We can search for results within the C++ or Python programming languages.

lang:c++
lang:python

By default, searches are case insensitive.

Prepending a hyphen can exclude results from a particular programming language.

-lang:programming-language

To exclude Java, you can perform the following search.

​​-lang:java

Narrowing your search scope down to specific languages can ensure that you find the code that is most relevant to your needs.

Searching based on time periods

If you are searching for code committed before or after a time period, you will use before and after

before:time-period after:time-period

Sometimes the time period can be relative, like last week, last year, 3 months ago or absolute, in several formats including {month} {day} {year} (example: february 10 2021), dd/mm/yyyy, and ISO format yyyy-mm-dd.

before:last week
after:february 10 2021
before:02/01/2019

To search between dates, keywords like and can be combined with before or after to return dates within a given period.

repo:sourcegraph type:commit after:"july 9 2021" and before:"july 10 2021"

Time-based search is usually used along with other search commands to further narrow down search results.

Note that before and after only work in conjunction when combined with type:diff or type:commit commands.

Search in archived repositories

The archived keyword will bring up those results from repositories that have been archived.

archived:yes
archived:no
archived:only

We can surface only archived repositories within the Sourcegraph organization with the following query.

repo:sourcegraph archived:only

This can help us understand past decisions made within a given codebase.

Use yes or no with the case search query to specify if the search should be case sensitive or not. By default, searches are case insensitive.

case:yes
case:no

Suppose you would like to check to align the style of a given codebase to help you bring all function calls in Python to be consistent with the PEP 8 guidance. You can use Sourcegraph to understand which functions are using camelCase rather than lowercase names with underscores between words (also called snake_case).

case:yes lang:python myFunction

If you would like to find all declared functions that use camelCase, you can try combining this query with regular expressions.

Searching by types

Types define the scope of code search. A search scope consists of commits, diffs, symbols, repos, paths and files. It is typically used alongside other search commands to further narrow search results.

type:commit|path|diff|symbol|repo|file

Here is an example to show us time-based commits on the Sourcegraph repo.

repo:sourcegraph after:yesterday type:commit

A type scope can use the following commands, which will restrict search to the following:

  • commit — commits to a repository.
  • path — restricts terms to matching filenames only (not file contents).
  • diff — show diffs, or changes, within a repository.
  • repo — repositories available to you.
  • file — restricts terms to matching file contents only (not filenames).
  • symbol — returns files that contain names or keywords in a library.

Searching by type can help you find exactly what you need in a codebase by narrowing down the scope of your search.

Searching commit messages matching a string

If a commit message is known, it can be helpful to use the message keyword to bring up relevant commits.

message:commit-message
message:string-regex-pattern

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