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What is ast-grep?


ast-grep is a new AST based tool for managing your code, at massive scale.

Using ast-grep can be as simple as running a single command in your terminal:

sg --pattern 'var code = $PAT' --rewrite 'let code = $PAT' --lang js

The command above will replace var statement with let for all JavaScript files.

ast-grep is a versatile tool for searching, linting and rewriting code in various languages.

  • Search: As a command line tool in your terminal, ast-grep, sg, can precisely search code based on AST, running through ten thousand files in sub seconds.
  • Lint: You can also use ast-grep as a linter. Thanks to the flexible rule configuration, adding a new customized rule is more intuitive and straightforward. It also has a pretty error reporting out of box
  • Rewrite: ast-grep provide jQuery like utility methods to traverse and manipulate syntax tree. Besides, you can also use operators to compose complex matching from simple patterns.

Think ast-grep as an hybrid of grep, eslint and codemod.

Supported Languages

ast-grep supports a wide range of programming languages. Here is a list of notable programming languages it supports.

Language DomainSupported Languages
System ProgrammingC, Cpp, Rust
Server Side ProgrammingGo, Java, Python, C-sharp
Web DevelopmentJS(X), TS(X), HTML, CSS
Mobile App DevelopmentDart, Kotlin, Swift
Scripting, Protocols, etc.Lua, Thrift

Thanks to tree-sitter, a popular parser generator library, ast-grep manages to support many languages out of the box!


Using text-based tool for searching code is fast but imprecise. We usually prefer to parse the code into abstract syntax tree for precise matches.

However, developing with AST is tedious and frustrating. Consider this "hello-world" level task: matching console.log in JavaScript using Babel. We will need to write code like below.

path.parentPath.isMemberExpression() &&
path.parentPath.get('object').isIdentifier({ name: 'console' }) &&
path.parentPath.get('property').isIdentifier({ name: 'log' })

This snippet deserves a detailed explanation for beginners. Even for experienced developers, authoring this snippet also requires a lot of looking up references.

The pain is not language specific. The quotation from Jobert Abma, co-founder of HackerOne, manifests the universal pain across many languages.

The internal AST query interfaces those tools offer are often poorly documented and difficult to write, understand, and maintain.

ast-grep solves the problem by providing a simple core mechanism: using code to search code with the same pattern. Consider it as same as grep but based on AST instead of text.

In comparison to Babel, we can complete this hello-world task in ast-grep trivially

sg -p "console.log"

See playground in action!

Upon the simple pattern code, we can build a series of operators to compose complex matching rules for various scenarios.

Though we use JavaScript in our introduction, ast-grep is not language specific. It is a polyglot tool backed by the renowned library tree-sitter. The idea of ast-grep can be applied to many other languages!


There are a lot of existing tools that looks like ast-grep, notable predecessor including Semgrep, comby, shisho, gogocode.

What makes ast-grep stands out is:


It is written in Rust, a native language and utilize multiple cores. (It can even beat ag when searching simple pattern). ast-grep can handle tens of thousands files in seconds.


You can start from creating a one-liner to rewrite code at command line with minimal investment. Later if you see some code smell recurrently appear in your projects, you can write a linting rule in YAML with a few patterns combined. Finally if you are a library author or framework designer, ast-grep provide programmatic interface to rewrite or transpile code efficiently.


ast-grep comes with batteries included. Interactive code modification is available. Linter and language server work out of box when you install the command line tool. ast-grep is also shipped with test framework for rule authors.

Check out Discord Bot

Still got questions? Join our Discord and ask @ast-grep-bot anything!

@ast-grep-bot is fluent in many natural languages. It can help you to quickly find the relevant information for your task and even write a pattern or YAML rule for you!

Made with ❤️ with Rust