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Lint Rule

A lint rule is a configuration file that specifies how to find, report and fix issues in the codebase.

Lint rule in ast-grep is natural extension of the core rule object. There are several additional fields to enable even more powerful code analysis and transformation.

Rule Example

A typical ast-grep rule file looks like this. It reports error when using await inside a loop since the loop can proceed only after the awaited Promise resolves first. See the eslint rule.

id: no-await-in-loop
language: TypeScript
  pattern: await $_
    - kind: for_in_statement
    - kind: while_statement

# Other linting related fields
message: Don't use await inside of loops
severity: warning
note: |
  Performing an await as part of each operation is an indication that
  the program is not taking full advantage of the parallelization benefits of async/await.

The TypeScript rule, no-await-in-loop, will report a warning when it finds await inside a for-in or while loop.

The linter rule file is a YAML file. It has fields identical to the rule essentials plus some linter specific fields. id, language and rule are the same as in the rule essentials.

message, severity and note are self-descriptive linter fields. They correspond to the similar concept Diagnostic in the language server protocol specification.

Basic Workflow

A full configured ast-grep rule may look like daunting and complex. But the basic workflow of ast-grep rule is simple.

  1. Find: search the nodes in the AST that match the rewriter rules (hence the name ast-grep).
  2. Rewrite: generate a new string based on the matched meta-variables.
  3. Patch: optionally, replace the node text with the generated fix.

The workflow above is called Find and Patch, which is embodied in the lint rule fields:

  • Find
    • Find a target node based on the rule
    • Filter the matched nodes based on constraints
  • Patch
    • Rewrite the matched meta-variable based on transform
    • Replace the matched node with fix, which can use the transformed meta-variables.

Core Rule Fields


rule is exactly the same as the rule object in the core ast-grep configuration.


We can constrain what kind of meta variables we should match.

  pattern: console.log($GREET)
    kind: identifier

The above rule will constraint the kind of matched nodes to be only identifier.

So console.log(name) will match the above rule, but console.log('Rem') will not because the matched variable GREET is string.

See playground in action.


transform is an advanced feature that allows you to transform the matched AST nodes into another string.

It is useful when you combine transform and fix to rewrite the codebase. For example, you may want to capitalize the matched variable name, or extract a substring from the matched node.

See the transform section in rewriting guide for more details.


ast-grep can perform automatic rewriting to the codebase. The fix field in the rule configuration specifies how to rewrite the code. We can also use meta variables specified in the rule in fix. ast-grep will replace the meta-variables with the content of actual matched AST nodes.


  pattern: console.log($GREET)
fix: console.log('Hello ' + $GREET)

will rewrite console.log('World') to console.log('Hello ' + 'World').

fix is textual

The fix field is a template string and is not parsed by tree-sitter parsers. Meta variables in fix will be replaced as long as they follow the meta variable syntax.

An example will be like this. The meta variable $GREET will be replaced both in the fix alert($GREET) and in the fix nonMeta$GREET, even though the latter cannot be parsed into valid code.

Other Linting Fields

  • message is a concise description when the issue is reported.
  • severity is the issue's severity.
  • note is a detailed message to elaborate the message and preferably to provide actionable fix to end users.


Rules can be applied to only certain files in a codebase with files. files supports a list of glob patterns:

- "./tests/**"
- "./integration_tests/"

Similarly, you can use ignores to ignore applying a rule to certain files. ignores supports a list of glob patterns:

- "./tests/config/**"

They work together!

ignores and files can be used together.

Don't forget ./

Be sure to add ./ to the beginning of your rules. ast-grep will not recognize the paths if you omit ./.

Suppress Linting Error

It is possible to ignore a single line of code in ast-grep's scanning. A developer can suppress ast-grep's error by adding ast-grep-ignore above the line that triggers the issue.

The suppression comment has the following format:

// ast-grep-ignore
// ast-grep-ignore: <rule-id>, <more-rule-id>
  • A comment with the content ast-grep-ignore will suppress the following line's diagnostic.
  • The magic word ast-grep-ignore alone will suppress all kinds of diagnostics.
  • ast-grep-ignore: <rule-id> can suppress specific rules.
  • You can ignore multiple rules by providing a comma-separated list in the comment. e.g. ast-grep-ignore: rule-1, rule-2

See the playground for example.

console.log('hello')  // match
// ast-grep-ignore
console.log('suppressed') // suppressed
// ast-grep-ignore: no-console
console.log('suppressed') // suppressed
// ast-grep-ignore: other-rule
console.log('world') // match

Test and Debug Rules

After you have written your rule, you can test it with ast-grep's builtin test command. Let's see it in next section.

Pro Tip

You can write a standalone rule file and the command sg scan -r rule.yml to perform an ad-hoc search.

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