Search is important! Having a good tool for text search can lower or eliminate barrier, speed up work, and generally make life more enjoyable and fulfilling. That handy search tool, for me on Linux, has been ack for the past few years. One still needs to know some grep and regex. In fact, the more you know regex and grep, the better. But for a handy and quick pattern matching against source files, I use ack all the time. By default, it ignores Subversion, Git, and other VCS directories and files, which is nice.
On Linux systems, it’s really easy to get ack. On Centos/Red Hat based systems,
yum install ack will get it for you. On Ubuntu based systems, one needs to run
apt-get install ack-grep. Not surprisingly, on Ubuntu, the default program name is ack-grep, although you can change that.
You can use ack on Windows system as well. Over the years, I’ve played with Strawberry Perl and ActiveState Perl on Windows. Although I haven’t done much of Perl work on Windows lately, I think ActiveState Perl would be my pick if given a choice, simply because its ppm program is nice and the precompiled PPM packages are really pretty extensive. I think most users don’t want to mess with MinGW, dmake, and whatnot. Even cpan can be a bit frightening for beginners. This is my opinion, your mileage may vary!
Anyway, if you have ActiveState Perl and ppm on Windows, run this to get ack. Afterwards, just invoke ack from the command line (if you get your PATH right). Enjoy!
ppm install ack