Improved syntax highlighting for GNU nano
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README.md

Unmaintained

I am no longer using nano as my editor and hence have little motivation to continue working on this project. It remains available on GitHub for archival purposes only.

Everything in the repository is in the Public Domain. Feel free to fork it and/or use the files for any purpose.

P.S. I highly recommend dex as a simple but much more capable editor.


Description

The syntax highlighting definitions that come bundled with nano are of pretty poor quality. This is an attempt at providing a good set of accurate syntax definitions to replace and expand the defaults.

Installation

Using make install will install the syntax definitions to the ~/.nano/syntax/ directory.

To enable highlighting for all languages after installation, add the following command to your ~/.nanorc file:

include ~/.nano/syntax/ALL.nanorc

To enable only a subset of languages, include them individually:

include ~/.nano/syntax/c.nanorc
include ~/.nano/syntax/python.nanorc
include ~/.nano/syntax/sh.nanorc
# ...

If you prefer to install to a location that all users can access, using sudo make install-global will install to /usr/local/share/nano/. Syntax files installed under this directory can then be included in either /etc/nanorc or any user's personal ~/.nanorc.

Note: If your terminal text color isn't black, you'll need to specify it when installing, using make install TEXT=color, where color must be one of: red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan or white.

After installation, the various source code samples in the examples directory can be used to check that highlighting is working correctly. If it doesn't work as expected, see the FAQ below.

Theme System

All *.nanorc files are passed through mixins.sed and theme.sed before installation. These scripts allow rules to be specified in terms of token names or mixins, instead of hard-coded colors.

For example, the following named rule:

TYPE: "int|bool|string"

becomes:

color green "int|bool|string"

and the following "mixin":

+BOOLEAN

becomes:

color brightcyan "\<(true|false)\>"

This system helps to keep colors uniform across different languages and also to keep the definitions clear and maintainable, which is something that becomes quite awkward using only plain nanorc files.

Note: if ~/.nanotheme exists it will be used as a custom theme, in place of theme.sed. A custom theme may also be specified by installing with make THEME=your-custom-theme.sed. Themes must be valid sed scripts, defining all color codes found in theme.sed in order to work correctly.

FAQ

Why does syntax highlighting only work for a subset of supported files?

There appears to be a bug in older versions of nano that causes highlighting to fail when /etc/nanorc and ~/.nanorc both contain syntax rules. The usual workaround is to remove all syntax and include commands from one file or the other, or to use a newer version of nano.

Why do I get weird errors when running nano < 2.1.5 on *BSD systems?

In order to reliably highlight keywords, this projects makes heavy use of the GNU regex word boundary extensions (\< and \>). BSD implementations also have these extensions but use a different, incompatible syntax ([[:<:]] and [[:>:]]). Since version 2.1.5, nano can automatically translate the GNU syntax to BSD syntax at run-time, but for the benefit of people running a pre-2.1.5 version of nano on OS X or *BSD, the .nanorc file itself can be translated by installing with make BSDREGEX=1.

Why not use \s instead of the verbose [[:space:]] pattern?

Because nano compiles against the platform's native regex library and some platforms don't support \s (as it's not required by POSIX ERE).

Unlicense

This is free and unencumbered software released into the public domain.

Anyone is free to copy, modify, publish, use, compile, sell, or distribute this software, either in source code form or as a compiled binary, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any means.

In jurisdictions that recognize copyright laws, the author or authors of this software dedicate any and all copyright interest in the software to the public domain. We make this dedication for the benefit of the public at large and to the detriment of our heirs and successors. We intend this dedication to be an overt act of relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights to this software under copyright law.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

For more information, please refer to http://unlicense.org/