September 8, 2009

Highlight your Syntax

Now, summer is nearly over and I'm back on this blog. During summer time, I use to spend more time with my family (and doing vacation ;-) but now my head is full with lots of snippets that could make it into this blog.

First of all, I have integrated some syntax highlighting to these pages. This might be well-known and boring for you, but I didn't really know how to do this until finding Alex Gorbatchev's SyntaxHighlighter. It's purely based on JavaScript and hence can be easily integrated with lots of products, tools and engines – like Integration couldn't be easier, see here for a step-by-step explanation.

When adding code, you just have to give your <pre> element a class like this: <pre class="brush:java">. That's it!

What do you get by this? Well, the well-known, nicely formatted code blocks like this one

public void prepareMethodOverrides() throws BeanDefinitionValidationException {
// Check that lookup methods exists.
MethodOverrides methodOverrides = getMethodOverrides();
if (!methodOverrides.isEmpty()) {
for (Iterator it = methodOverrides.getOverrides().iterator(); it.hasNext(); ) {
MethodOverride mo = (MethodOverride);

This works for lots of languages (called "brushes"), including XML and JavaScript, and you can easily provide a custom brush. Standard layout can be customized, of course, but the default is pretty good IMO.

There are just two or three things (there is always room for improvements ;-)

  • Syntax Highlighter documentation is a bit sparse...
  • The server hosting the CSS and JavaScript files,, seems to be not the fastest one. To speed up things, the Syntax Highlighter files could be hosted somewhere else, and they most probably already are.
  • You can highlight particular lines using the <pre class="brush:java; highlight: [14, 15]"> syntax (see line 7 in example above). However, it seems you can't specify areas but have to list all individual lines which might be cumbersome.

All in all, pretty cool. Syntax Highlighter is open source under LGPL 3, but the author asks you to "buy him a beer" if you use his tool. Well, I honestly will think of some donation ;-)

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