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Integrating TextMate and Pygments

Like many, I don’t use TextMate just for coding. All of my posts are first drafted in my trusty editor before being published. One of the problems that I had, and that others probably face too, is the less than smooth process of publishing properly highlighted code in posts and HTML pages. A few solutions exist, including embedding gist snippets, using “Create HTML from Document” in TextMate, or adopting JavaScript libraries or WP plugins. But when it comes to highlighting code, for me Pygments is simply unbeatable.

Pygments is a Python library but ships as a command line tool as well. However, switching between TextMate and the command line is not as convenient as I’d like. So on the weekend I pulled out my big sharp razor and started yak shaving. The result of that brief session is a hack that delivers the integration of TextMate and Pygments, so that code can be easily converted to HTML in order to beautifully present it.

First, let’s see how I use it. When I select a snippet of Ruby code in TextMate and press ⌃⌥1 a snippet of code is transformed into the proper HTML. ⌃⌥2 is for Python snippets, ⌃⌥3 for any other language, and ⌃⌥4 for any language as well but with the option of adding line numbers. In practice, this means that I use 1 and 2 most of the time and these shortcuts are easy enough to remember. Note that this is not necessarily the best arrangement, but it works well for me. I could, if so inclined, associate all 4 commands to the same shortcut and be prompted by a menu every time this combination is pressed, obtaining something along the lines of the image shown below:

A possible prompt menu for Pygments

Should I ever forget these 4 shortcuts, I can take a quick look at the Text bundle menu shown below. I placed these commands under the Text menu, since they are globally available for textual formats, whether I’m composing HTML, Textile, Markdown or ReST; but this is entirely arbitrary and I suspect that many would consider the HTML menu instead or place a “Convert to HTML” entry in the menu of the specific language.

The Text menu

Ruby and Python deserve their own command because they are the languages whose code I publish the most, but pressing ⌃⌥3 (or 4) prompts a long list of languages to choose from as shown below (the image is cut to reduce its length):

The select a language dialog

The following are a series of steps that you can take to reproduce the same results as mine. The HTML required to present the code nicely in this section was generated from within TextMate. In other words, I’m eating my own dog food.

Step 1: If you haven’t done so already, install Pygments. You can get it from the official site.

Step 2: Within TextMate click on the menu entry: Bundles -> Bundle Editor -> Show Bundle Editor and click on the triangle to open up Text in the left pane.

Step 3: Click on the +- button in the lower left corner of the window and select New Command, then name the command Pygmentize Ruby (assuming that you want a command for Ruby).

Step 4: Ensure that each option for Save, Input, Output and Activation are the same as shown below (click to enlarge):

Step 5: Fill the Command(s) text area with the following code:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import os
import sys
from pygments import highlight
from pygments.lexers import RubyLexer
from pygments.formatters import HtmlFormatter

try:
    code = os.environ['TM_SELECTED_TEXT']
except KeyError:
    sys.exit()

formatter = HtmlFormatter()
print highlight(code, RubyLexer(), formatter)

Step 6: Repeat the process for Pygmentize Python, Pygmentize… and Pygmentize with line numbers… but select a different Activation key equivalent (replace 1 with 2, 3 and 4, respectively).

The command code for Pygmentize Python is as follows:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import os
import sys
from pygments import highlight
from pygments.lexers import PythonLexer
from pygments.formatters import HtmlFormatter

try:
    code = os.environ['TM_SELECTED_TEXT']
except KeyError:
    sys.exit()

formatter = HtmlFormatter()
print highlight(code, PythonLexer(), formatter)

For Pygmentize… use the following:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import os
import sys
from commands import getoutput
from pygments import highlight
from pygments.lexers import get_all_lexers, get_lexer_by_name
from pygments.formatters import HtmlFormatter

try:
    code = os.environ['TM_SELECTED_TEXT']
except KeyError:
    sys.exit()

available_languages = ", ".join(sorted('"'+lex[1][0]+'"' for lex in get_all_lexers()))
chosen_language = getoutput("""echo $(osascript <<'AS'
    tell app "TextMate"
        activate
        choose from list { %(languages)s } \
            with title "Pick a language" \
            with prompt "Select a language"
    end tell
AS)""" % {'languages':available_languages})
os.system("osascript -e 'tell app ""TextMate"" to activate' &>/dev/null &")

lexer = get_lexer_by_name(chosen_language.lower())
formatter = HtmlFormatter() # linenos=False
print highlight(code, lexer, formatter)

And finally for Pygmentize with line numbers… use the almost identical script below:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import os
import sys
from commands import getoutput
from pygments import highlight
from pygments.lexers import get_all_lexers, get_lexer_by_name
from pygments.formatters import HtmlFormatter

try:
    code = os.environ['TM_SELECTED_TEXT']
except KeyError:
    sys.exit()

available_languages = ", ".join(sorted('"'+lex[1][0]+'"' for lex in get_all_lexers()))
chosen_language = getoutput("""echo $(osascript <<'AS'
    tell app "TextMate"
        activate
        choose from list { %(languages)s } \
            with title "Pick a language" \
            with prompt "Select a language"
    end tell
AS)""" % {'languages':available_languages})
os.system("osascript -e 'tell app ""TextMate"" to activate' &>/dev/null &")

lexer = get_lexer_by_name(chosen_language.lower())
formatter = HtmlFormatter(linenos=True)
print highlight(code, lexer, formatter)

Step 7: Click on Text and by dragging and dropping arrange the menu to include the Pygmentize commands as shown below (click to enlarge):

Editing the Text menu

Step 8: At this point everything should work, whether you invoke the commands through a keyboard shortcut or through the Text menu. However, you will need to upload and include a Pygments stylesheet from within your site. To generate a stylesheet run the following from the command line:

pygmentize -S default -f html > pygmentize.css

In the above command, default is the name of the style. For example, the Python code you see in this article is styled with the style pastie (because I globally adopted that stylesheet for this site). For a comparison of the available styles check out this demo page.

Step 9: ????

Step 10: Profit!

I hope these hacked together commands can be useful to others. Feel free to customize them and improve upon them as it suits your needs.

UPDATE: I made a Pygments TextMate Bundle out of this.


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  1. [...] my last post, a few people asked me to create a Pygments TextMate bundle. Ask and ye shall receive. You can find [...]

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