Is there a way that
NotebookFind can be used to match string pattern expressions rather than just strings?
The documentation for
NotebookFind states that only a string, box expression or complete cell can be used as the search term so my question is really whether or not pattern matching can be achieved through writing some additional code that wraps or replaces
One obvious strategy would be to convert the notebook to a text representation using
NotebookGet and then perform the pattern matching search on the text representation, but this is not ideal for my intended application because I would like any match that is found to be highlighted (by selecting it) much like
NotebookFind already does.
Eventually I would like to build a replacement for Mathematica's built-in Search and Replace functionality. Two key enhancements that I hope to provide are:
the ability to search and replace across all open notebooks in the front-end or all notebooks in a selected directory (which is not too difficult to accomplish) and
the ability to search and replace using string pattern expressions.
I realize that Workbench already offers these features. My goal is to enable users who prefer the notebook interface (rather than the .m editor promoted by Workbench) to continue developing complex multi-notebook packages from within the front-end.
Celtschk proposes a strategy below in the comments that may provide a partial solution. One of the issues that is still not clear however is how to deal with surrounding context in a pattern match when returning to
Perhaps the following example will help clarify the potential problem. Without digressing into the theory of formal grammars, let's say that we want our string pattern language to be powerful enough to express not just wildcard patterns but also surrounding context. Imagine in particular that we want to find each occurrence of the string pattern "foo?" in some notebook that is enclosed by a pair of parentheses (not necessarily immediately surrounding the "foo?" pattern). We can do that easily using standard Mathematica string pattern expressions by operating on the string representation of the notebook.
Let's now assume that there is one occurrence of "foo1" and two occurrences of "foo2" in the notebook, the latter of which is not surrounded at any distance by a pair of parentheses. How would we then exclude the second "foo2" from being found when we return to
NotebookFind to search for "foo1" and "foo2"?
Of course we could have matched the entire string plus surrounding context (which in this case would include the surrounding pair of parentheses) when searching the string representation for parentheses-enclosed instances of "foo?" -- but this is not really what we want, and in certain instances could be quite inconvenient in a tool designed to assist the user in refactoring a large body of Mathematica code.