Parse::ExuberantCTags - Efficiently parse exuberant ctags files

      use Parse::ExuberantCTags;
      my $parser = Parse::ExuberantCTags->new( 'tags_filename' );
      # find a given tag that starts with 'foo' and do not ignore case
      my $tag = $parser->findTag("foo", ignore_case => 0, partial => 1);
      if (defined $tag) {
        print $tag->{name}, "\n";
      $tag = $parser->findNextTag();
      # ...
      # iterator interface (use findTag instead, it does a binary search)
      $tag = $parser->firstTag;
      while (defined($tag = $parser->nextTag)) {
        # use the tag structure

    This Perl module parses *ctags* files and handles both traditional ctags
    as well as extended ctags files such as produced with *Exuberant ctags*.
    To the best of my knowledge, it does not handle emacs-style "*etags*"

    The module is implemented as a wrapper around the readtags library that
    normally ships with *Exuberant ctags*. If you do not know what that is,
    you are encouraged to have a look at <>. In
    order to use this module, you do not need *Exuberant ctags* on your
    system. The module ships a copy of readtags. Quoting the readtags

      The functions defined in this interface are intended to provide tag file
      support to a software tool. The tag lookups provided are sufficiently fast
      enough to permit opening a sorted tag file, searching for a matching tag,
      then closing the tag file each time a tag is looked up (search times are
      on the order of hundreths of a second, even for huge tag files). This is
      the recommended use of this library for most tool applications. Adhering
      to this approach permits a user to regenerate a tag file at will without
      the tool needing to detect and resynchronize with changes to the tag file.
      Even for an unsorted 24MB tag file, tag searches take about one second.

    Take away from this that tag files should be sorted by the generating

    The methods that return a tag entry all return tags in the same format.
    Examples count for a billion words:

        name              => 'IO::File',
        file              => '/usr/lib/perl/5.10/IO/',
        fileScope         => 0,
        kind              => 'p',
        addressPattern    => '/package IO::File;/',
        addressLineNumber => 3,
        extension         => {
          class => 'IO::File',

    The structure has the name of the tag ("name"), the file it was found in
    ("file"), a flag indicating whether the tag is scoped to the file only,
    the type of the tag entry ("kind"), the "ex" search pattern for locating
    the definition ("addressPattern"), the line number
    ("addressLineNumber"), and then key/value pairs from the extension
    section of the tag.

    Not all of the fields are guaranteed to be available. Particularly the
    "extension" section will be empty if the tags file doesn't make use of
    the extended format. Refer to the ctags reference for details.

    Given the name of a file to read the tags from, opens that file and
    returns a "Parse::ExuberantCTags" object on success, false otherwise.

    Takes the name of the tag to be sought as first argument.

    Following the tag name, two optional arguments (key/value pairs) are

    Setting "<partial =" 1>> makes the tag name match if it's the start of a
    tag. Setting "<ignore_case =" 1>> makes the search ignore the case of
    the tag. Note that setting "<ignore_case"> to true results in a slower
    linear instead of a binary search!

    Returns a tag structure or undef if none matched.

    Returns the next tag that matches the previous search (see "findTag").

    Returns undef if no more tags match.

    Returns the first tag in the file. Returns undef if the file is emtpy.

    Returns the next tag or undef if the end of the file is reached.

    The SetSortType call is currently not supported. Let me know if you need
    it and I'll add a wrapper.

    Exuberant ctags homepage: <>

    Wikipedia on ctags: <>

    Module that can produce ctags files from Perl code: Perl::Tags


    Steffen Mueller, <>

    This Perl module is a wrapper around the readtags library that is
    shipped as part of the exuberant ctags program. A copy of readtags is
    included with this module. readtags was put in the public domain by its
    author. The full copyright/license information from the code is:

      Copyright (c) 1996-2003, Darren Hiebert
      This source code is released into the public domain.

    The XS wrapper and this document are:

    Copyright (C) 2009 by Steffen Mueller

    This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
    under the same terms as Perl itself, either Perl version 5.6 or, at your
    option, any later version of Perl 5 you may have available.