Navigate the high seas with Sourcegraph

Open source code search: Sourcegraph is your new navigational captain

Sarah Schlothauer
open source
© Shutterstock /Chursina Viktoriia

Another one joins the open source club. Sourcegraph is a code search tool available for individual users and businesses that helps you navigate with powerful queries. The creators have a noble vision about the future of software creation, and by open sourcing their project we are one step closer.

The power of open source grows and grows. The newest member to support the open source wave is Sourcegraph: a “fast, open-source, fully-featured code search and navigation engine”.

Perfect for individual use as well as teams, let’s take a look at this engine and celebrate its new open source status.

The value of open source

Here at JAXenter, we are big fans of open source and it’s no secret. When a creator open sources its tool to the public, we all reap the benefits and can contribute to its growth. As for Sourcecode, the reason for open sourcing is to help further the company’s so-called master plan. Sourcegraph has a concrete vision of helping everyone build software:

Make basic code intelligence ubiquitous (for every language, and in every editor, code host, etc.)
Make code review continuous and intelligent
Increase the amount and quality of open-source code


Sound like a faraway fantasy? Try this vision on for size: The personal computer, mobile phone, and even just typing skills for all were once just faraway ideas.

Now under the Apache License v2.0, you can contribute to Sourcegraph and explore its repository. However, not everything is available for free. There are also two paid for enterprise versions (in both starter and the full package) for businesses in need of next-day support and other features.

Will this bring the goal of software programming for all one step closer to reality? There’s only way to find out: give the code search tool a test and see.

SEE ALSO: Securing the future of open source

Better code navigation

Fast, advanced code searching is the bread and butter of Sourcegraph. It fills a gap that is much needed for nearly all developers.

In the tool’s documentation, it is stated that: “A recently published research paper from Google and a Google developer survey showed that 98% of developers consider their Sourcegraph-like internal code tool to be critical, and developers use it on average for 5.3 sessions each day…”.

Here are just a few of the features:

  • Search across all of your repos with both regular expression search and exact queries. The advanced features also allow for narrowing down your searches to more specific criteria and the query syntax has a host of uses for lighting fast searches.
  • Work smarter, not harder. Sourcegraph suggests results as you type for faster navigation.
  • Custom search scopes! This is especially useful in the enterprise version for teams with different search requirements.
  • Save your searches for easier access later. Who knows when you’ll need it, but it’s better to be prepared for anything.
  • Supported code hosts include GitHub, Bitbucket, GitHub Enterprise, and Phabricator. Support for GitLab and Review Board are coming soon.
  • Need something bigger than the single-server deployment? The Sourcegraph Data Center is available for a larger number of users.
  • IDE-like hover tooltips, references, and jump-to-definitions are all built-in.

SEE ALSO: Know your history — Open Source’s software freedom movement

Installation & limitations

Sourcegraph requires Docker for installation. After starting Docker, just run the and follow the instruction on GitHub.

The Chrome browser extension and Firefox add-on works with open-source code in 19 languages.

It is worth noting to keep an eye out for bugs if you run Windows, as it is currently not actively tested. (Sourcegraph uses several Unix specifics.) Currently, Sourcegraph also has experimental C/C++ support, so prepare to run into some difficulties if those are your languages of choice.

However, with the newly open sourced status of the project, we hope to see some improved stability for other languages and operating systems in the future. The Sourcegraph team currently works hard preparing new features, so keep your eyes on the project.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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