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  • Developing Custom Language Plugins for IntelliJ IDEA

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The third level of highlighting is performed through the Annotator interface. If the plugin returns an instance of Annotator from Language.getAnnotator(), the annotator is A plugin can register one or more annotators in the com.intellij.annotator extension point, and these annotators are called during the background highlighting pass to process the elements in the PSI tree of the custom language. The annotator Annotators can analyze not only the syntax, but also the semantics of the text in the language, and thus can provide much more complex syntax and error highlighting logic. The annotator can also provide quick fixes to problems it detects.

When the file is changed, the annotator is called incrementally to process only changed elements in the PSI tree.

To highlight a region of text as a warning or error, the annotator calls createErrorAnnotation() or createWarningAnnotation() on the AnnotationHolder object passed to it, and optionally calls registerFix() on the returned Annotation object to add a quick fix for the error or warning. To apply additional syntax highlighting, the annotator can call AnnotationHolder.createInfoAnnotation() with an empty message and then call Annotation.setTextAttributes() to specify the text attributes key for the highlighting.

Finally, if the custom language employs external tools for validating files in the language (for example, uses the Xerces library for XML schema validation), it can provide an implementation of the ExternalAnnotator interface and register it in com.intellij.externalAnnotator extension point. The ExternalAnnotator highlighting has the lowest priority and is invoked only after all other background processing has completed. It uses the same AnnotationHolder interface for converting the output of the external tool into editor highlighting.

The plugin can also provide a configuration interface to allow the user to configure the colors used for highlighting specific items. In order to do that, it should provide an implementation of ColorSettingPage and register it in the com.intellij.colorSettingsPage extension point.

to be continued