Syntax Highlighting Tools

I′ve written syntax highlighting packages for a few editor/language combinations, some of which you′ll find below. It′s “some” instead of “all” because they haven′t all turned out well enough that I′d be willing to inflict them on other people. The reasons why they don′t pan out can usually be boiled down to one of two things:

  1. The editor doesn′t have, doesn′t publish or doesn′t sufficiently document its interface to syntax highlighting extensions, or its documented interface is too convoluted or broken for me to bother with it.
  2. I′ve stopped using the editor, at least for the subject file type, because it doesn′t make my life easier, removing my motivation for bothering with it.

I try new editors continually as I run across them (assuming they look like they might be reasonably useful). On Unix platforms, I don′t bother looking much any more, because since my friend Fred pointed me to NEdit many, many years ago, I′ve come to the conclusion that pretty much nothing compares to it in an X-Windows environment.

I don′t buy editors any more, either, because since I seem to change my mind regularly, at least on non-XWindows platforms, I′ve a) paid for a lot of editors that I no longer use and b) rarely find any that compare to the free NEdit.

I′ve used NEdit on the Mac, too, and it works great1 under OSX′s X11 system (especially with NEdit Droplet, which I highly recommend). However, there are a couple of areas where I like having a real OSX application more than I like NEdit, so I keep looking. I′m currently using TextWrangler quite a bit, and while I hate that I can′t middle-click to paste highlighted text, it′s overall a pretty competent editor.

Now, there are a few things you won′t find here, so I′ll lay them out before you look further.

Hopefully that explains the reasoning behind what you′ll find here.


In my professional capacity I′ve done a fair amount of work with MOF files, for which virtually no source code editor supports syntax highlighting out of the box. If you′re not familiar with MOF, you presumably don′t care, but for those of you working with the DMTF′s CIM infrastructure, where MOF is the standard for interface definition, the dearth of editor support is a nuisance.
The following modules are imperfect, and likely to stay that way:

1 At least, it used to work great. Since the introduction of OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, Apple seems to be paying much less attention to their X11 server. This doesn′t bother me much because I don′t use any X11 apps on my Mac any more (I don′t even have X11 installed these days), but it is troublesome to some diehards.