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Directory support/highlight

---  HIGHLIGHT MANUAL - Version 2.16   ------------------------- March 2010 ---

OSI Certified Open Source Software

Deutsche Anleitung: README_DE


Highlight converts sourcecode to HTML, XHTML, RTF, LaTeX, TeX, SVG, BBCode, XML
and terminal escape sequences with coloured syntax highlighting.
Language definitions and colour themes are customizable.


0.  Quick introduction
1.  Platforms
2.  Supported programming/markup languages
3.  Features
4.  Input/Output
5.  Highlight file format
6.  Language definitions
7.  Colour themes
8.  Keyword groups
9.  Embedded output instructions
10. Configuration file
11. Advanced options
12. Plugins
13. SWIG interface
14. GNU Source-highlight compatibility
15. Contact

0.  Quick introduction

The following examples show how to produce a highlighted C++ file, using an
input file called main.cpp:

- Generate HTML:
  highlight -i main.cpp -o main.cpp.html
  highlight < main.cpp > main.cpp.html --syntax cpp

You will find the HTML file and highlight.css in the working directory.
If you use IO redirection, you must define the syntax type with --syntax.

- Generate HTML with embedded CSS definitions and line numbers:
  highlight -i main.cpp -o main.cpp.html --include-style --linenumbers

- Generate HTML with inline CSS definitions:
  highlight -i main.cpp -o main.cpp.html --inline-css

- Generate HTML using "ANSI" source formatting style and "neon" colour theme:
  highlight -i main.cpp -o main.cpp.html --reformat ansi --style neon

- Generate LaTeX:
  highlight --latex -i main.cpp -o main.cpp.tex

  Other output formats:
  XHTML (--xhtml), TeX (--tex), LaTeX (--latex), RTF (--rtf), terminal colour
  escape codes (--ansi, --xterm256), SVG (--svg), BBCode (--bbcode), XML (--xml).
  HTML is the default output format if no other format is specified.

- Define an output directory:
  highlight -O some/target/dir/ *.cpp *.h

See "highlight --help" or "man highlight" for more details.


Highlight is written in ISO C++. The following platforms are supported:
- UNIX console  and GUI application
- W32 console and GUI application

The website www.andre-simon.de offers more precompiled packages for several
operating systems (like Debian, Solaris, MacOS X).

Note for the path names in this document:
The highlight directory $HL_DIR may be one of the directories listed in INSTALL.
For UNIX, this is usually /usr/share/highlight, for Windows, it is the path
of the highlight executable. You redefine this directory at run time by
the --data-dir option, or by modification of the makefile (see INSTALL).
Highlight expects the subdirectories langDefs/ and themes/ within the data
Apart from $HL_DIR, the directory $CONF_DIR is the place where configuration
files are stored (Unix: /etc/highlight/, Windows: executable path).

The optional GUI is not included in all precompiled packages. In order to 
compile the GUI from source, the Qt4 devel package is required. See INSTALL
for detailed instructions.


Please see README_LANGLIST for the current compilation of supported languages.
You may also run "highlight --list-langs" to get a list of supported file


* highlighting of keywords, types, strings, numbers, escape sequences, comments,
  symbols and directive lines
* recognition of nested languages within a file
* custom keyword groups, which may be defined using regular expressions
* coloured output in HTML, XHTML 1.1, RTF, TeX, LaTeX, SVG, BBCode, terminal 
  escape sequences and XML format
* customizable reformatting and indentation of C, C++, C# and Java source code
* wrapping of long lines
* output of line numbers
* choice to embed the formatting information in the output HTML, LaTeX, TeX or
  SVG file or to save them in a separate style file, which is referenced by the
  generated documents
* customizable colour themes
* recursive batch processing of directories


Apart from defining input and output files using -i and -o, it is possible to
use IO redirection.
If no input or output file name is defined by --input and --output options,
highlight will use stdin and stdout for file processing.
If multiple input files are given, highlight switches to batch mode.

If no input filename is defined by --input or given at the prompt, highlight is
not able to determine the language type by means of the file extension (only
some scripting languages are determined by the shebang in the first input 
line). In this case you have to pass highlight the given langage with --syntax 
(this should be the file suffix of the source file in most cases).
Example: If you want to convert a Python file, highlight needs to load the
py.lang language definition. The correct argument of --syntax would be "py".
If you pass the filename directly to highlight, the program fetches the ".py"
extension from the file name.

highlight test.py                     
highlight < test.py --syntax py       # --syntax option necessary
cat test.py | highlight --syntax py

If there exist multiple suffixes (like C, cc, cpp, h with C++ - files),
you assign them to the matching language definition in the file

Highlight enters the batch processing mode if the --batch-recursive (-B) option
was given or if multiple input files were defined.
In batch mode, highlight will save the generated files with the original
filename, appending the extension of the chosen output type.
The -O option is useful with -B. Use --quiet to improve performance
(recommended for usage in shell scripts).

HTML, TeX, LaTeX and SVG output

The HTML, TeX, LaTeX and SVG output formats allow to reference style definition
files which contain the formatting information (stylesheets).

In HTML and SVG output, this file contains CSS definitions and is saved as
'highlight.css'. In LaTeX and TeX, this file contains macro definitions, and
is saved as 'highlight.sty'.

Name and path of the stylesheet may be modified with --style-outfile.
If the --outdir option is given, all generated output, including stylesheets,
are stored in this directory.

Use the --include-style switch to save the style information embedded in 
the output documents without referencing a stylesheet.

The usage of referenced style definitions has the advantage to have all
formatting information in a central place, which affects all referencing

Using the --style-infile option you can define a file to be included in the
final formatting information of the document. You can enhance or redefine
the default highlight style definitions without editing generated code.


/* content of user.css (add document frame and a line to linenumbers) */
pre.hl {
  border-width: 1px;
  border-left-color: silver;
  border-top-color: silver;
  border-right-color: gray;
  border-bottom-color: gray;
  padding: 0.5cm;
  margin: 2cm;
.hl.line {
  /* background-color:#EEEEEE;  color:#505050; */
  border-right:1px solid #555555;

Usage: highlight -l --style-infile user.css main.cpp

Terminal output:

highlight --ansi <inputfile> | less -R
highlight --xterm256 <inputfile> | less -R

displays coloured sourcecode in a terminal.

Since there are limited colours defined for ANSI terminal output, there exists
only one hard coded colour theme with --ansi. You should therefore use --xterm256
to enable output in 256 colours. The 256 colour mode is supported by recent
releases of xterm, rxvt and Putty (among others).

Text processing:

If the language definition is specified as "txt", no highlighting takes place.

highlight -S txt -L README > README.tex


The following commands write the content of hello.c to hello.html:

highlight -o hello.html -i hello.c
highlight -o hello.html hello.c
highlight -o hello.html --syntax c < hello.c
highlight --syntax c < hello.c > hello.html

Apart from hello.html, a file highlight.css is generated in the current working

highlight -X  --batch-recursive '*.cpp' --outdir /home/you/html_code/
This command converts all *.cpp files in the current directory and its sub-
directories to xhtml files, and stores the output in /home/you/html_code.

highlight hello.c --mark-line="5=Initialize some stuff; 15; 21=Log result"
This command will mark the lines 5, 15 and 21 in HTML output.
The lines 5 and 21 will include tooltips with the given help texts.

highlight -L  * --outdir /home/you/latex_code/
This command onverts all files to LaTeX, stored in /home/you/latex_code/.

highlight -c stdout -s seashell --print-style
This command prints only the CSS information to stdout (theme: Seashell).


All Highlight configuration files are stored as plain ASCII text files, using
the convention:


ParamName is the identifier of the parameter, ParamValue is its value.
Parameter names are not case sensitive.
The value may be a single character, a list of words or a regular expression.
Lists may be split in multiple lines.

Comments start with # as the first character in a line.


A language definition describes all elements of a programming language which
will be highlighted by different colours and font types.
Save the new file in $HL_DIR/langDefs (see section 1), using the following name

<usual extension of sourcecode files>.lang

Examples: PHP -> php.lang, Java -> java.lang

If there exist multiple suffixes, list them in $HL_DIR/filetypes.conf.


# Regular expression to describe valid number tokens
# Default value: (?:0x|0X)[0-9a-fA-F]+|\d*[\.]?\d+(?:[eE][\-\+]\\d+)?[lLuU]?

# Regular expression to describe valid identifier tokens
# Default value: [a-zA-Z_]\w*

# List of keywords or regular expression.
# <group> is the name of the keyword group
# The group must be defined in the applied colour theme to provide a matching
# highlighting style.
# If the regex contains multiple grouping parantheses, GROUP-NUM may be defined.
# This parameter contains the number of the group, whose match should be
# returned as keyword (count number from left to right)
# The capturing states of the groups are irrelevant for counting.
# Legal index values: 0 <= GROUP-NUM <= highest group index
#                     0 describes the complete regex match
# If GROUP-NUM is undefined, the group match with the highest number will be
# returned.
$KEYWORDS(<group>)=regex(<RE> <, GROUP-NUM>) | <List>

# List of String delimiters

# List of string delimiters which are not equal (open != close)
$STRING_UNEQUAL=<open close>

# List of escape characters in strings (ie. "\") or regular expression
$ESCCHAR=<List> | regex(<RE>)

# Escape characters may appear outside of strings

# Prefix which disables highlighting of escape characters within a string

# Delimiters of multi line comments
# Delimiter comment_close may be omitted if $ALLOWNESTEDCOMMENTS is false
$ML_COMMENT=<comment_begin comment_close>

# List of strings which start single line comments
$SL_COMMENT=<List> | regex(<RE>)

# Prefix of preprocessor directive lines
$DIRECTIVE=<prefix> | regex(<RE>)

# Character which continues a compiler directive after a line break

# Source code may be reformatted (only C-style languages compatible with 
# astyle (astyle.sf.net)
$REFORMATTING=<true | false>

# Symbols (brackets or operators)

# Multiple line comments may be nested

# Programming language is case sensitive
$IGNORECASE=<true | false>

# Include another language definition stored in the same data directory
$INCLUDE=<language definition>

# define the opening and closing expressions of the embedded language.
# There may be multiple entries for the same language
$NESTED(language)=regex(<RE open>) regex(<RE close>)

See the file README_REGEX for a detailed description of the regular expression


#Content of pas.lang (Pascal/Objekt Pascal)

$KEYWORDS(kwa)= absolute abstract and array as asm assembler automated begin case
cdecl class const constructor destructor dispid dispinterface div do downto
# [...]
$KEYWORDS(kwb)=boolean char integer pointer real text
true false cardinal longint byte word single double int64
$KEYWORDS(kwc)=if else then downto do for repeat while to until with
$ML_COMMENT={ } (* *)
$SYMBOLS= ( ) [ ] , ; : & | < > !  = / * %  + - @

HINT: To test new language definitions or if you do not have permission to save
      files in the default installation directory (HL_DIR), pass highlight
      another search path with the --add-data-dir option.


Colour themes contain the formatting information of the language elements which
are described in language definitions.

The files have to be stored as *.style in HL_DIR/themes* (see section 1).
Apply a style with the --style option.


<Colour> = #RRGGBB
RR GG BB describe the red/green/blue hex-values which define the colour.
Value range: 00 (none) - FF (full)

<Format> = <bold> <italic> <underline>
Bold, italic und underline are optional attributes and may be combined.

# Colour of unspecified text

# Background colour

# Font size

# Formatting of keywords, which belong to the corresponding keyword group
$KW-GROUP(<group>)=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of numbers
$NUMBER=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of escape characters
$ESCAPECHAR=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of strings
$STRING=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of comments
$COMMENT=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of single line comm. (optional, equals to $COMMENT if omitted)
$SL-COMMENT=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of compiler directives
$DIRECTIVE=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of strings within compiler directives
$STRING-DIRECTIVE=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of symbols (optional, equals to $DEFAULTCOLOUR if omitted)
$SYMBOL=<Colour> <Format>

# Formatting of line numbers
$LINE=<Colour> <Format>

# Background colour of marked lines


# golden.style
$KW-GROUP(kwa)=#ffed8a bold
$KW-GROUP(kwc)=#dedede bold
$KW-GROUP(kwd)=#ddbb00 bold
$COMMENT=#978345 italic


You may define custom keyword groups and corresponding highlighting styles.
This is useful if you want to highlight functions of a third party library,
macros, constants etc.

You define a new group in two steps:

 1. Define a new group in your language definition:


    The group attribute is the name of the new keyword group.
    You may use the same group name for different group descriptions.

 2. Add a corresponding highlighting style in your colour theme:

    $KW-GROUP(group) = #RRGGBB <bold> <italic> <underline>

Note that every group name which is listed in a language definition should be
defined in the used colour theme. The keyword groups "kwa"-"kwd" are predefined
in all packaged colour themes.


# Some language definition...
$KEYWORDS(kwa)=for repeat while [...]
# ...

# Some colour theme...
$KW-GROUP(kwa)=#ddbb00 bold
$KW-GROUP(debug)=#ff0000 bold
$COMMENT=#978345 italic
# ...


If highlight encounters the identifier @highlight within a single line comment
in an input source file, the following special handling is applied to the line
content: The data after @highlight will be copied to the output without
escaping symbols of the output file format. So it is possible to add HTML tags
or LaTeX commands without the need of external scripts. Apart from that, there
is a set of variables that can be used to output additional information:

$infile:    input file path
$outfile:   output file path
$font-face: font face
$font-size: font size
$theme:     theme path
$title:     document title
$encoding:  encoding
$linenum:   line number
$nl:        newline

The comment line will not be outputted as highlighted comment, nor will it
increase the line number count.
Embedded instructions are only recognized in single line comments, not in multi
line comments.


The following comment line is part of main.cpp:

//@highlight <h1>$title</h1><br>Filename: $infile $nl

highlight main.cpp --doc-title=Masterpiece

This command will result in the following HTML output:

<h1>Masterpiece</h1><br>Filename: main.cpp


A plain ASCII text file may be stored in the following path, depending
on your platform:

UNIX: $HOME/.highlightrc
W32 : <Path of highlight.exe>\highlight.conf

The options in the file behave like their equivalent long command line options
of the same name. Flags (options without parameter) expect true or false as



The options defined in this file may be redefined by command line parameters
(except flags).


Adding Exuberant Ctags information

HTML output can be enhanced with descriptive tooltips based on ctags data:
ctags *.*
highlight --ctags-file *.cpp

The default ctags-file parameter is "tags", so it is omitted in this example.
This command will add the type, namespace and definition file path of recognized
language tokens.
Example: "member | class:highlight::HtmlGenerator | htmlgenerator.h"

Marking input lines

In HTML output, lines can be highlighted with a different background colour.
A tooltip may show additional information describing the marked code section.

highlight --mark-line='3;10,21' -l main.cpp
This command highlights the lines 3, 10 and 21.

highlight --mark-line='5;10=Getter and setter definitions' -l main.cpp
This command highlights the lines 5 and 10. Line 10 also includes a tooltip
containing "Getter and setter definitions".

Prevent parsing of binary input files

If highlight could be invoked with all kinds of input, you can disable parsing
of binary files using --validate-input. This flag causes highlight to match the
input file header with a list of magic numbers. If a binary file type is 
detected, highlight quits with an error message. This switch also removes the

Highlight nested code without starting delimiter

If a file starts with an embedded code section which misses the starting 
delimiter, the --start-nested option will switch to the nested language mode.
This can happen with LuaTeX files:
highlight luatex.tex --latex -t4 -semacs --start-nested=inc_luatex

The inc_luatex definition is a Lua definition with TeX line comments.
Note that the nested code section has to end with the ending delimiter defined
in the host language definition.


See the /examples subdirectory in the highlight installation for some plugins
which integrate highlight in Wiki and blogging software:



A SWIG interface file is located in /examples/swig.
See README_SWIG for installation instructions and the example scripts as
programming reference.


The command line interface is extensively harmonised with source-highlight

The following highlight options have the same meaning as in source-highlight:
 --input, --output, --help, --version, --out-format, --title, --data-dir,
 --verbose, --quiet, --ctags-file

These options were added to enhance compatibility:
 --css, --doc, --failsafe, --line-number, --line-number-ref, --no-doc, --tab,
 --output-dir, --src-lang

These switches provide a common highlighter interface for scripts, plugins etc.


Andre Simon

Because of repeated spamming abuse, you have to login to edit pages.
The wiki login: user, Password h1gHL1te

Download the contents of this package in one zip archive (759.1k).

highlight – Converts source code to syntax highlighted or

This is a program which converts source code to and with syntax highlighting. It is possible to add custom programming language definitions easily.

Highlight supports 100 programming languages and includes 50 colour themes. It features code reformatting and indenting.

LicensesGNU General Public License, version 3
Copyright2003 André Simon
MaintainerAndré Simon
See alsolgrind
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