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NOTE: The development team is currently supporting IDEA versions 2016 and later. Support for version 13.1 been removed as of release 0.9.8.*   Support for versions 14 and 15 are stopped as of release 0.11.2.

Reporting errors

Things that will help us fix your bug:

  • A minimal code example. For example if you have some completion issue, you can add the simplest Haxe that can reproduce the issue.

  • We’d like to know your:

    • Plugin version (very important!)
    • IDEA version
    • OS and OS version
    • JDK version
  • Check if the bug already exists at the HaxeFoundation repository. If it does, add your example to the discussion.

Development Environment

You will need the release version of Intellij IDEA Ultimate 2016.1 or later to develop the plugin. There are reports that you can develop with IDEA Community Edition, though extended functionality such as diagrams and hierarchy panels will not be available and you wont be able to test their Haxe equivalents.


Install the following plugins from Intellij IDEA plugin manager.


  • Plugin DevKit
  • UI Designer
  • Ant Support
  • Grammar-Kit (for bnf compilation) version 1.2.0. (Later versions are not backward compatible with IDEA 14.)


  • JUnit

Optional, install if you want to modify lexer/parser:

  • JFlex (for lexer compilation)

IntelliJ IDEA uses the Grammar-Kit plugin to generate its lexer and parser for Haxe and HXML. The grammar file for Haxe is haxe.bnf. The grammar file for HXML is hxml.bnf.

Enable the PSI Viewer

In versions 13 and later, the PsiViewer is pre-installed, and it is not displayed in the plugins list. Two menu items under the Tools menu (View PSI; View PSI of Current File) will appear if the current project uses a plugin SDK. However, that is not useful when you're ''testing'' a plugin using another project. To always have the menu items available, add the following lines to the end of the ${IDEA_INSTALLATION_DIRECTORY}/bin/ file (as directed here:

# Allow the PSI viewer to be available to all projects.

Sometimes, when testing, the secondary instance of IDEA (running the plugin you're debugging) won't turn on the PSI viewer when that property is actually set. You can always enable it by adding to the "VM Options" field in the 'Run->Edit Configurations...' dialog.

Disable ProcessCanceledExceptions

Eventually, you may run into the frustrating situation where your stepping takes longer than IDEA's timeout and will try to cancel the process you're debugging. This can be disabled by adding -Didea.ProcessCanceledException=disabled to the same "VM Options" field.

See JetBrains' documentation for the '' file. for other goodies and their suggested methods for modifying properties.


Do NOT install the haxe support plugin if you want to hack on it. The installed plugin will be loaded and override your newly built one. Running the "Haxe" plugin can only use the version you've built if there isn't one already in place. (Don't worry, when you are running or debugging, the plugin support is enabled in the test instance of Idea that is launched.)

Steps to configure a IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK:

  • Open Module Settings
  • SDKs -> + button -> IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK -> Choose a folder with IntelliJ Ultimate(!) or *.App on Mac
  • Go to the SDK’s settings page -> Classpath tab -> + button(upper right corner or bottom left corner in IntelliJ 14) -> add plugins: flex
  • To add a plugin go to IntelliJ IDEA folder/plugins//lib and choose all jars
  • Add all libraries from <your_IDEA_install_directory>/lib directory. Do this after each upgrade, too, particularly if you see ClassNotFound exceptions when attempting to run the plugin.

Video tutorials from as3Boyan


How to write plugin code


Contributors are expected to have and build against each of the latest sub-release of each major and minor version of IDEA that is supported by the plugin team. At the time of this writing, that would be 2016.1.4, 2016.2.5, 2016.3.7, 2017.1.5, and 2017.2.6, and 2017.3.3. As new versions are released this will continue to be a moving target, as we attempt to keep up with the development community.

We do NOT expect contributors to keep up to date with EAP releases, nor does the team support them (though the plugin may work, and will usually install).

IDEA releases 2016 and later require JDK 8. That build environment has been successfully used for this plugin, targeting Java6 for builds prior to 2016.x.

Ant Builds

As we noted in the README file, you can build and test the plugin without ever installing IDEA Ultimate. The make command does this for you -- every time you build. That is rather inefficient and can be time consuming, particularly when we, as developers, generally already have the software installed.

The ant command line build skips the shell scripting (thus fetching/downloaing Idea) and make entirely. It is the quickest way to build and test for multiple versions. It is called like so:


or, for test builds:

ant<path_to_idea_installation> -f build-test.xml

The default target in each of the build files (the ant default build.xml and build-test.xml) will build the package and test targets respectively. If those complete without error, you have a compilable set of changes which can be considered for merging.

Note that you have to set the path to the appropriate idea installation. The ant task will read the build.txt file from the installation directory and parse it to determine the build target and which properties to use. Thus, you, as a developer, don't have to track which version of IDEA SDK you built with which set of properties. The correct properties will always be selected for you. (The ant file common.xml does this bit of trickery for builds from within IDEA as well; you don't have to set any command switches when you run tasks from the ant pane.)

To do that bit of magic idea must be able to find the installation and the build.txt file. If it doesn't you will see this error:

IDEA installation not found.

Either '${}' does not exist, or it does not appear
to be a normal IDEA installation.  (It should contain a build.txt file.)
See the description section at the top of this file (common.xml) for more

You can tell this build where to find to your IDEA Ultimate build directory
by adding "" to the
command line, where path_to_your_IDEA_installation is a directory on your
local machine.

Alternately, you can run this build by executing the file in the
project root directory, which will fetch a new installation for you.

The algorithm works like this:
Pick the first instance of that is set from the following locations (in order):

  • the command line (e.g. includes<path>)
  • local-build-overrides.xml file
  • the grandparent directory from which ant is running, if ant is running from (${ant.home} is set to) a directory named **/lib/ant and the file build.txt exists in the grandparent directory.
  • ./idea-IU/ relative to the project root directory.

Once the ${} property is set, the existence of build.txt is checked. If build.txt cannot be found, then the error message you see above is displayed. (On MacOS, the build file is located in a slightly different place within IDEA's app directory. The ant build knows how to find it.)

In any case, build.txt MUST exist in your installation directory. If it does not, then your installation is corrupt. You should consider re-installing IDEA. Failing that, you can create one. It is a single line file with the following format:

  • A two character product prefix (e.g. IU for IDEA Ultimate, IC for community edition, and so on)
  • a dash ("-")
  • code line ID (e.g. 161 for IDEA 2016.1.x, 172 for IDEA 2017.2.x, etc.)
  • a dot (".")
  • build number (e.g. 1286)
  • a dot -- optional, but mandatory if a patch number is supplied
  • patch number -- optional





The ant file ./local-build-overrides.xml is intended to contain your IDEA paths and any other modifications and tasks that you want to include in your builds. The most important entry is the path to your IDEA installation. That way there is no guessing on the part of common.xml, and you don't have to type it on the command line all of the time. Plus, your extra build goodies become available inside of IDEA.

Here is a minimalist example:

<project name="local-overrides">
  <property name="" location="/home/username/intellij_idea/idea-IU-135.1286/" />

Here is a version from one of our team members:

<project name="local-overrides">
    Including local overrides...

  <property environment="env"/>
  <property name="idea.installation.dir" location="${env.HOME}/intellij_idea" />
  <condition property="" value="${idea.installation.dir}/idea-IU-135.1286/" >
    <matches pattern="13" string="${version}"/>
  <condition property="" value="${idea.installation.dir}/idea-IU-141.177.4/">
    <matches pattern="14.1" string="${version}"/>
  <condition property="" value="${idea.installation.dir}/idea-IU-139.1117.1/">
    <matches pattern="14" string="${version}"/>


Using this latter file, when started using the command ant -Dversion=13, the plugin is built using the IDEA SDK found at /home/user/intellij_idea/idea-IU-135.1286.

Generation of META-INF files

Since each version of IDEA has it's own requirements, should not be built using code that is specific to another version, and should not be able to load into a version of IDEA other than which it was intended, we have to update the src/META-INF files with data appropriate to the version being built. Before compilation, the "metainf" ant task runs and fills in the blanks (well... the areas between @...@ signs) in plugin.xml with the aforementioned values. The generation algorithm copies the src/META-INF files to gen/META-INF as part of this process, and the project uses the copied files. The properties are defined in properties files in the project root directory (e.g.

IDEA builds

The preferred way for casual developers to build the plugin is using the build that they use for their other work. That is, casual developers shouldn't be using the command line at all and generally shouldn't use the ant targets either. They should use the normal Build menu commands (or their shortcuts).

That said, builds from within IDEA use ant as well: always for preparation of the META-INF files and generating the parser classes; sometimes for building, depending upon how you launch the build. In all cases, before compilation, the "metainf" ant task runs and fills in the blanks (well... the areas between @...@ signs) in plugin.xml with values appropriate to the version of IDEA that is running the build. (It is assumes that you want a build that you can run in your current installation.) This happens whether you start the build from an ant task (from the "Ant Build" pane) or from the Build menu.

If you run the "package" or "test" targets from the ant pane, you get the same behavior that you do from the command line ant build, except that the "Messages" window shows the ant task output as each dependent task is run. If you were to expand all tasks, you will see that the output is identical to the command line.

However, if you run from the build menu, only the plugin.xml is updated (or whatever "generateTemplatedFiles" and all of it's dependent tasks do now). After that, the normal IDEA make, build, or what-have-you from the Build menu runs and does its thing. You will see a few ant messages scroll by, and then the normal IDEA output will be seen.

Yes, Build Errors Are Expected
Syntax Errors

First thing: You MUST build the project to generate the PSI sources. Until you do, you will have missing classes in many places that will magically disappear when you build (or when the ant common.generateTemplatedFiles target executes).

NOTE: The following procedure was required for the 0.x.x versions of the plugin. As of version 1.0.0 of the plugin, there are no longer separate directories per version.

After that, if you haven't changed anything, this most likely isn't an issue of code. It's an issue of updating your project structure. Since all of the versions of the plugin build from a single source base, the project must be set up correctly. We decided to make the default settings be correct for IDEA v2016.x. However, to build other versions, you can either use the ant builds (see ![Ant Builds][Ant Builds] above), or you can change the project structure to match the environment you're trying to build.

So, for 13.1.6, open "File->Project Structure->Module->intellij-haxe->Sources(tab)," and change this: Project Structure for IDEA 14

to this:
Project Structure for IDEA 13

Then try to rebuild.

Unfortunately, IDEA will not allow multiple modules (.iml files) with the same source root, so we can't have a configuration for each build type.

IDEA Installation Not Found

In order to get the above message while running inside of IDEA, your build.txt file must be missing, or you must have overridden IDEA's default ant installation. (Have you set ANT_HOME in your environment?) Idea ships with an ant installation and that is normally what is used when running ant builds -- thus the check for ${ant.home}/../../build.txt in common.xml.

You can either restore the ant defaults inside of idea, (unset ANT_HOME before you start IDEA?) or, the best option, add a property entry to local-build-overrides.
See the above discussion regarding [local-build-overrides.xml].


When debugging, a secondary instance of IDEA starts up and loads the plugin. At that point, the original instance of IDEA is in debug mode and has all of the normal java debugging functionality. You will find yourself swapping back and forth between the two instances quite a lot. Note that it's very easy to think that IDEA has hung in the second instance, when, in reality, you have hit a breakpoint in the first instance.

It is also annoying that focus isn't necessarily changed correctly when swapping between two instances. It is helpful to reset focus by minimizing the second instance (using the mouse :/ ) and restoring it.

If, while debugging, you find that you are missing source files for the /gen tree, then you need to quit and do a local build to get those generated sources available for your tree. (On the other hand, since the files are auto-generated, they likely won't be much more help than the decompiled class files.)


Testing can be performed on the command line via ant, or within the IDE itself. To test on the command line, the command is:

ant<path_to_idea_installation> -f build-test.xml

The requirements for testing the plugin are the same as for building the plugin. You can run tests within IDEA from the ant pane as well, with the output being identical to that from the command line.

IDEA's test support is really very nice, and you can't use it with the ant build. Running them from within idea (the "Build" menu) allows for nicer reporting, allows debugging, and allows discrete tests to be run. Ant will still be called to generate needed files prior to compiling the tests, so ant needs to be set up correctly. You will have a much nicer and more productive testing and debugging sessions running tests with the native support.

Updating Grammar Files

If you change the haxe.bnf or hxml.bnf files, you no longer have to (re)generate the parsing files; that is now done through the 'generateTemplatedFiles' ant target, which is run before every build, incremental or full. (It will only rebuild the files if they are out of date.)

The grammar-kit plugin is used to generate the parser files. Version 1.2.0 works well for this project and creates identical code for IDEA versions 14.0 through 2016.2. Versions 2.x work intermittently (a bug has been filed). Using 1.1.x versions, we saw a bug appear where APISs that expect discrete elements all-of-a-sudden change to requiring list type return values, or vice versa. If you see this type of error and find yourself fixing non-generated code to match the generated code, don't do it. You will find yourself changing it back and forth. The quickest workaround for the bug is to restart IDEA. That usually fixes it. Since the bug is intermittent, it may work one or a hundred times just to start failing. (We've never seen it recover.) That said, version 1.2.0 and later appear stable. However, they use the list-based APIs, so we have converted the code to that style, however incorrect it may be.

To regenerate, make your changes to the .bnf files and build the project, either via IDEA or the command line. That simple. Parser files will be generated to the project's /gen tree. Since the /gen tree is no longer checked into the source tree, you don't have to worry about copyrights, etc. Just don't try and add them back into the git repository.

Contributing your changes



  • Minimize overhead
  • Define the process concretely, so that we can agree on how to work together.
  • Document this so that the community can easily help.

Where we are working:

  • Future work will take place on the HaxeFoundation/intellij-haxe/master branch (really, using short-lived local branches off of that).

Where we will release:

  • Releases will (usually, simultaneously) occur on the HaxeFoundation/intellij-haxe repo, jetbrains/intellij-haxe repo, and the IDEA plugin repository. Releases will be made through the github release mechanism. Binary output (e.g. intellij-haxe.jar) is no longer kept in the source tree in the repository.

How we will release:

  • When appropriate (there are changes that merit a new version), we will update the release notes, commit, tag the build, and create a pull request to JetBrains. Updating the release notes primarily means adding release notes to src/META-INF/plugin.xml, and echoing them to
  • A github "release" will be created on the HaxeFoundation/intellij-haxe repository. Binary (.jar) files for all currently built Idea target versions of the plugin will be added to the release.
  • The released plugin (.jar files) will be uploaded to the JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA plugin repository.

Release environments:

  • Haxe Foundation releases will be built and smoke tested for the following environments:
    OS: Linux(Ubuntu14.04), OSX, Windows
    JVM: Sun Java 1.8 compilers
    IDEA versions: 2016.3.7, 2017.1.5, 2017.2.6, 2017.3.3.
  • JetBrains releases will be copies of the Haxe Foundation releases.

Who will test:

  • Interested Community members will test the HaxeFoundation release environments.
    Community members will ensure that the product can be loaded into the various environments prior to release. Lack of interest from the community may delay releases.

Unit tests:

  • Unit tests will be run and must pass with every commit. We are using Travis-ci to automate this process. No merge will be considered or approved unless it passes unit tests cleanly. (Note: There are no automated Windows continuous integration builds. We would like to add this functionality. Any volunteers?)

Release Timing

As far as updates the IDEA repository go, the team will agree on releases as necessary and as critical errors are fixed. Optimally, we should create a release about every month to six weeks.

Release Process

Once we have a stable code base and would like to create a release, you should get consensus from the current primary developers. Once you have agreement on the release number, this is the process:

  1. Make sure that all relevant outstanding pull requests have been merged into the master branch.

  2. Review the git change log and make sure that all relevant updates are reflected in the plugin's change log. The change log appears in two places: src/META-INF/plugin.xml and The former is what the IDEA user will see in the plugin description page and in the IDEA plugin repository. The latter is what github users will see. You will also need the change log for the releases page later on. To keep things in sync, it is easiest to edit the plugin.xml, then copy the relevant section to

  3. Update the file: ./ in the project root.

  4. Commit the change logs, merge them into master, and then pull the master branch locally so that you can test and tag it.

  5. Build each of the releases: For each release, run make (or your local equivalent)

    • IDEA_VERSION=2016.3.5 make
    • IDEA_VERSION=2017.2 make
    • IDEA_VERSION=2017.3 make
    • IDEA_VERSION=2018.1 make
  6. Smoke test each of the releases. A smoke test includes loading the releases in a primary instance of IDEA and verifying basic functionality:

    • Reload a project
    • Compile a project
    • Show class hierarchy
    • Copy/Paste a block
    • Invoke completion
    • Visually verify coloring
    • Goto definition
    • Find occurrences
    • Start the debugger
    • Run the project
  7. Run the unit tests on all versions:

    • IDEA_VERSION=2016.3.5 make test, etc.
    • or ant<path_to_intellij_2016.2.5> -f build-test.xml, etc.
  8. Tag the commit using the agreed upon release number: git tag -a 0.9.5 -m "Release 0.9.5"

  9. Push the release back up to master: git push origin master; git push --tags origin master

  10. Create a release on github, using the tag you just created:

    • Sign in and draft a new release, using the tag you just added.
    • Upload all of the release jars to the release.
    • Add the change notes for the most recent changes (between this release and the last).
    • Mark it as pre-release if appropriate.
    • Submit
  11. Create a Pull Request to pull all of the current changes up to the JetBrains/intellij-haxe/master repository. Add shoutouts to @as3Boyan and @EBatTiVo to the pull request.

  12. Upload the jars to the IDEA plugin repository

Code Review and Commit Process

We, as a team, are reviewing each other’s code publicly on github. To do so we’re using the common git practice of creating short-lived work branches, and then creating pull requests.

Here’s how:

  1. Create a new (or use an existing) branch for any work that you do. The critical thing here is not to do your work directly on the master branch.
  2. Make and test your changes.
  3. Create unit tests for your changes. (See the testSrc and testData directories for examples.)
  4. Update src/META-INF/plugin.xml with the change description in the top (Usually "Unreleased changes" section).
  5. When your work is complete, merge current sources from master up to your branch, re-test locally, then push your branch to HaxeFoundation/intellij-haxe. Travis-ci will automatically start a build and test cycle applying your changes against the master branch.
  6. Create a pull request, and wait for comments.
  7. If you get comments that require changes, address those and return to step 2.
  8. When you get an “OK to merge,” or "approved," message from anyone on the team: Eric, @EricBishton; Ilya Malanin, @Mayakwd; Boyan, @as3boyan; or Ilya Kuzmenko, @EliasKu (others as they become regular contributors,) go ahead and merge your changes to master. A clean merge requires no further testing, as Travis-ci will do it for you. However any build break must be addressed immediately. A build that has conflicts requires manual resolution and must be re-tested locally prior to push. For regular team members, the original requester will be the person to merge since they are best suited to address conflicts. Merges from occasional contributors will be merged by a team member as time and resource becomes available.
  9. Check the Travis-ci output ( to ensure that everything built correctly.