31 October 2015

Searching multiple Xojo projects

Finding that useful method or class in one of your numerous Xojo projects

If you've used Xojo (Real Studio) for a while, you'll probably have collected more than just one project.

And each of these projects contains unique code, and some of that may even be re-usable for other projects.

How do you keep track of all the code and methods you've written in the past? E.g, you do remember you've once written that nifty function to count the words in a string, but where is it?

I am going to show you several ways how you can find code across multiple projects.

Mac OS X only: Use Spotlight

For Spotlight to be able to search Xojo projects, it needs to be able to understand their content so that it can extract any text from it and add it to its searchable database. By default, textual project formats (.xojo_project, .xojo_xml_project, .xojo_script, .xml, .rbvcp, .rbs) are regarded as text files and thus be automatically scanned by Spotlight. However, it won't scan binary file formats such as .xojo_project and .rbp - to make them usable by Spotlight, a so-called Spotlight Importer is needed.

Real Studio and early Xojo IDEs did include such an importer, but recent versions don't any more. However, as I wrote this importer originally, I've now made the effort and updated it for the latest Xojo file format (as of Xojo 2015r3). So, if you're on a Mac I suggest you install this latest importer for Xojo if you like to use Spotlight:

This Spotlight importer will remember all the class and function names of all your projects, along with any other text it they contain.

Let's assume you have a method names "CountWords". If you enter "countwords" into the Spotlight search field, you should see the project file listed in the results.

However, the results may be cluttered with a lot of other types of files not related to Xojo.

So, here's how you tell Spotlight to only show Xojo project files:
  • Open the Spotlight Finder window (e.g. by pressing cmd+F in the Finder).
  • If you do not see a popup menu under the Search: row, click the [+] button on the right.
  • Click on the leftmost popup menu (which probably reads Kind) and choose Other...
  • A new sheet dialog appears in which you can select a search attribute.
  • Find the "File extension" attribute. Tick its checkbox under the In Menu column.
  • While you're at it, also find the "Xojo class" attribute and tick its checkbox as well.
  • Then click OK to dismiss the dialog.
Now, whenever you use this Find window, you can choose File extension from the popup menu to limit the found items to file types that your Real Studio projects use: rbprbbas, xojo_binary_project etc.

Furthermore, if you are looking for a particular class, you can choose the Xojo class attribute and enter the (partial) class name there, leaving the main search field empty. That way, you'll see all the projects that contain that class.

All platforms: Searching inside VCP and XML projects

If you are used to saving your projects in the textual VCP (.rbvcp or .xojo_project and related class files) or XML (.xml or .xojo_xml_project) format, then you may have success performing simple searches using Spotlight on OS X or Windows Search on Windows.

If you need more control over what files are found, so that you don't get lots of false results from non-RB files, here are a few 3rd party programs you could try:


  • TextWrangler is free and has a Multi-File search in which you can set up filters with the extensions you want to search.
  • EasyFind mainly finds files by names, but if you specify to search files ending in .rbbas, .xojo_class etc., then you can also search for their content. (I'd have liked to tell you that my program Find Any File could also be of help here, but it doesn't search file contents - yet.)


  • UltraFileSearch does a good job. You'd use the Wildcards search in the Files and Folders tab, searching for "*. xojo_*", and then enter the name of the function or code under the Containing Text tab.
Unfortunately, most of these methods (apart from TextWrangler), including Spotlight, won't show you the actual code snippets, and the Xojo IDE also won't open ".xojo_window" and similar files alone, so you'll have to find their main project file and double click that, then use the IDE again to search for the function name.

All platforms: Arbed

Arbed is a tool that was developed mainly for dealing with larger projects and the tasks around them. One of its many features lets you search inside project files within a folder and all its sub folders (and while some features require a license purchase, this is a free feature).

Contrary to Spotlight, Arbed runs on Windows and Linux as well, so you can use this even if you do not use a Mac.

The advantage of Arbed over the above methods is that Arbed can show you the results conveniently, so you don't have to re-enter the search in the IDE before you know if the results contain what you were searching for.

Launch Arbed and then either drop a folder onto its Search Multiple Projects box or choose Find on Disk... from the File menu:

You can then enter the search text, even as a Regex formula, and also choose the folder in which you want to search:

Arbed then lists all found projects:

Double clicking any of the found items opens a new window showing that project, along with a window listing all occurances. Clicking on any of the occurances will show you the related project item (class, function etc.):

Right-Clicking on an item in the project list gives you the option to reveal the file on disk or open it in the Xojo / Real Studio IDE.