Search-based code navigation

Sourcegraph comes with built-in code navigation provided by search-based heuristics.

If you are interested in enabling precise code navigation for your repository, see our how-to guides.

How does it work?

Search-based code navigation provides 3 core code navigation features:

  • Jump to definition: Performs a symbol search.
  • Hover documentation: First, finds the definition. Then, extracts documentation from comments near the definition.
  • Find references: Performs a case-sensitive word-boundary cross-repository plain text search for the given symbol

Search-based code navigation also filters results by file extension and by imports at the top of the file for some languages.

What languages are supported?

Search-based code navigation supports 40 programming languages, including all of the most popular ones: Apex, Clojure, Cobol, C++, C#, CSS, Cuda, Dart, Elixir, Erlang, Go, GraphQL, Groovy, Haskell, Java, JavaScript, Jsonnet, Kotlin, Lisp, Lua, OCaml, Pascal, Perl, PHP, PowerShell, Protobuf, Python, R, Ruby, Rust, Scala, Shell, Starlark, Strato, Swift, Tcl, Thrift, TypeScript, Verilog, VHDL.

Are you using a language we don't support? File a GitHub issue or submit a PR.

Why are my results sometimes incorrect?

Search-based code navigation uses search-based heuristics rather than parsing the code into an abstract syntax tree (AST). Incorrect results occur more often for tokens with common names (such as Get) than for tokens with more unique names simply because those tokens appear more often in the search index.

We recommend using precise code navigation if you require 100% confidence in accuracy for a definition or reference results for a symbol you hovered over. We describe scenarios where you may still get search-based code navigation results, even with precision enabled, in the precise code navigation docs.

Why does it sometimes time out?

The symbol search performance section describes query paths and performance. Consider using Rockskip if you're experiencing frequent timeouts.

What configuration settings can I apply?

The symbols container recognizes these environment variables:

  • CTAGS_COMMAND: defaults to universal-ctags, ctags command (should point to universal-ctags executable compiled with JSON and seccomp support)
  • CTAGS_PATTERN_LENGTH_LIMIT: defaults to 250, the maximum length of the patterns output by ctags
  • LOG_CTAGS_ERRORS: defaults to false, log ctags errors
  • SANITY_CHECK: defaults to false, check that go-sqlite3 works then exit 0 if it's ok or 1 if not
  • SYMBOLS_CACHE_DIR: defaults to /tmp/symbols-cache, directory in which to store cached symbols
  • SYMBOLS_CACHE_SIZE_MB: defaults to 100000, maximum size of the disk cache (in megabytes)
  • CTAGS_PROCESSES: defaults to strconv.Itoa(runtime.GOMAXPROCS(0)), number of concurrent parser processes to run
  • REQUEST_BUFFER_SIZE: defaults to 8192, maximum size of buffered parser request channel
  • PROCESSING_TIMEOUT: defaults to 2h, maximum time to spend processing a repository
  • MAX_TOTAL_PATHS_LENGTH: defaults to 100000, maximum sum of lengths of all paths in a single call to git archive
  • USE_ROCKSKIP: defaults to false, enables Rockskip for fast symbol searches and search-based code navigation on repositories specified in ROCKSKIP_REPOS, or respositories over ROCKSKIP_MIN_REPO_SIZE_MB in size
  • ROCKSKIP_REPOS: no default, in combination with USE_ROCKSKIP=true this specifies a comma-separated list of repositories to index using Rockskip (e.g.,
  • ROCKSKIP_MIN_REPO_SIZE_MB: no default, in combination with USE_ROCKSKIP=true all repos that are at least this big will be indexed using Rockskip
  • MAX_CONCURRENTLY_INDEXING: defaults to 4, maximum number of repositories being indexed at a time by Rockskip (also limits ctags processes)

The defaults come from config.go.