How to Find Important Code in a Large Repo

2 min read

You just started at a new company and the codebase is massive.

Your product manager is giving your first assignment:

We need to update our cookie consent banner so that it’s GDPR-compliant.

Your head is spinning. Where do you even start?

How do we avoid the noise and zoom in on code we care about when working in a large, unfamiliar codebase?

It may sound obvious.

But the trick is really just to utilize your editor/IDE’s “find in files” feature.

The way you do this in IntelliJ and VS Code is the same: Ctrl+Shift+F

Replace Ctrl with Cmd if you’re on Mac.

Here’s where you need to be creative and do some trial and error.

In our example, we were looking to update the cookie-consent banner, so we might try searching for “cookie” or “consent”.

It may take a few tries depending on what you’re looking for.

Most likely, there will be a component or file named cookie consent, or at the very least some text that says “please accept cookies”.

The point is using this technique has helped me zero in on code of importance time and time again.

Hopefully this helps make you a more effective developer.

Remember: baby steps. You don’t need to understand every line of the codebase.

Just find what you need, make your change, and get out. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

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