ack 2.0 has been released. ack is a grep-like search tool that has been optimized for searching large heterogeneous trees of source code.
ack has been around since 2005. Since then it has become very popular and is packaged by all the major Linux distributions. It is cross-platform and pure Perl, so will run on Windows easily. See the “Why ack?” page for the top ten reasons, and dozens of testimonials.
ack 2.0 has many changes from 1.x, but here are four big differences and features that long-time ack 1.x users should be aware of.
On the horizon, we see creating a framework that will let authors create ack plugins in Perl to allow flexibility. You might create a plugin that allows searching through zip files, or reading text from an Excel spreadsheet, or a web page.
ack has always thrived on numerous contributions from the ack community, but I especially want to single out Rob Hoelz for his work over the past year or two. If it were not for Rob, ack 2.0 might never have seen the light of day, and for that I am grateful.
A final note: In the past, ack’s home page was betterthangrep.com. With the release of ack 2.0, I’ve changed to beyondgrep.com. “Beyond” feels less adversarial than “better than”, and implies moving forward as well as upward. beyondgrep.com also includes a page of other tools that go beyond the capabilities of grep when searching source code.
For long time ack users, I hope you enjoy ack 2.0 and that it makes your programming life easier and more enjoyable. If you’ve never used ack, give it a try.