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Agent Ransack - File searching utility that supports Regular expressions

, 12 Oct 2000
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File, searching, regular, expression, GREP, tool, utility
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  • Introduction

    How many times do you find yourself plowing through files looking for that illusive line of code whether it is a method declaration, function call, or algorithm etc.? If you're anything like me it's all the time and you may therefore find this FREE utility, Agent Ransack, very useful. 

    Agent Ransack searches through files, text or otherwise, fast and efficiently. When searching the contents of files for code, or other text, Agent Ransack displays the text found so you can quickly browse the results without having to separately open each file!

    Basic Example

    Shown below is an example of searching for the Format method of CString in the MFC source directory. 

    The example shows a few important features:

    Regular expressions: The filename field uses a regular expression to search through all files with a .cpp or .h extension. Regular expressions can be used in both the file name and the contents field. If you would rather use DOS style expressions then there is an 'Auto convert to DOS' option. If you are not familiar with regular expressions but would still like to use them there is an Expression Wizard to help you build the expression.

    Immediate browseable results: As soon as a file is found it is available for browsing, even if the search has not yet finished. The browser allows you to view the lines that were found without having to open the file separately.

    A more complicated example

    Have you ever written if (nValue = NULL) when you meant to write if (nValue == NULL)? Hmm, only me huh? The following example shows how to look through your code for any line that has an if with only a single = within the parentheses.


    You can then quickly run through the results checking each occurrence.


    While this was a bit of a whirlwind tour of Agent Ransack I hope it inspires you to give it a try and check out the help file for a more detailed description of it's features. Other features include: Print/Print preview, Search saving, File context menu, Basic interface option, match case, regular expression tester, and many more. I hope Agent Ransack saves you many hours of frustrated searching!

    For further information please visit our website at


    This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

    A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


    About the Author

    David Vest
    Founder Mythicsoft Ltd
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    Dave has been writing software since the age of nine when he received his first computer, the Sinclair ZX81 with a rather limiting 1K of RAM. Since then (many computers, with significantly more RAM, later) Dave has spent a lot of time working with 6502 assembly, C, C++, STL/MFC/ATL, COM, C#, ASP.NET, PowerBuilder, MS SQL Server and Sybase databases.

    After working for various organizations in the UK, USA, Bosnia and Switzerland Dave founded Mythicsoft Ltd which sells high performance file searching solutions.

    Comments and Discussions

    QuestionCrash in Windows 8.1 PinmemberSivaji156525-Feb-14 18:51 
    AnswerRe: Crash in Windows 8.1 PinmemberDavid Vest11-Aug-14 2:40 
    GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberSivaji156525-Feb-14 18:45 
    Generalthank you PinmemberJoeMan22-Mar-10 0:09 
    GeneralPossibly small but great enhancements Pinmemberccoder00728-Jun-09 12:28 

    I've been using "Agent Ransack" for quite a while now, searching mainly large plaintext files for strings that all occur in one line (for which regular expressions are extremely useful!)
    The thing is, sometimes it's over a Gigabyte of text that will take A.R. quite a while to get through.
    So if there's two things I might dare to "complain" about, it would be the following:
    1. (Parts of) Lines in the search-result pane cannot be selected using the mouse, nor copied as text
    2. As said above, speed is an issue for such big files of large amount of files.

    Would it somehow be possible to use the index of Microsoft's Indexing Service, and search that instead of the actual files? If this worked, I'd only have to tell MS Indexing Svc which of my files to index, and *fast we go* Smile | :)

    I'd be more than happy if this could be implemented.

    And THANK YOU for such a great utility.

    QuestionAccessing by code PinmemberS Sansanwal23-May-07 12:57 
    Generalget the line containing particular text Pinsusschintan_4948-Apr-04 22:39 
    Generalget the line containing particular text Pinmemberchintan_4948-Apr-04 22:39 
    GeneralTo = or not == PinmemberDave Cross9-Nov-03 0:17 
    GeneralThanks you! PinmemberJohn R. Shaw7-Jul-03 15:48 
    GeneralText display errors PinmemberRick York16-Dec-02 8:18 
    GeneralFile identification PinsussRaks11-Dec-02 11:04 
    GeneralLogical AND PinmemberMads M.P.2-Aug-02 3:16 
    GeneralRe: Logical AND PinmemberDavid Vest2-Aug-02 4:00 
    GeneralRe: Logical AND PinmemberMads M.P.2-Aug-02 15:39 
    GeneralNice one PinmemberJobie28-Feb-02 5:35 
    GeneralFirst test failed PinsussAnonymous3-Nov-00 5:43 
    GeneralRe: First test failed PinsussDavid Vest3-Nov-00 6:58 
    GeneralWonderful! PinsussAbu Wawda1-Nov-00 21:01 
    GeneralNEW VERSION 1.5.0 PinsussDave Vest30-Oct-00 12:35 
    GeneralReplace were great PinsussChristian Rodemeyer16-Oct-00 21:40 
    GeneralRe: Replace were great PinsussPhilippe Lhoste17-Oct-00 0:33 
    GeneralRe: Replace were great PinsussDeveloper17-Oct-00 4:23 
    GeneralRe: Replace were great PinsussDave Vest17-Oct-00 3:40 
    QuestionWhat RegExp Library are you using? PinsussUwe Keim13-Oct-00 23:13 

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