Adding Haskell syntax highlighting to the Typo blogging system

By Tom Moertel
Posted on
Tags: haskell, ruby, typo, hscolour

Last night on #haskell, Don Stewart asked if I had seen HsColour for rendering syntax-highlighted Haskell in HTML. He had used it recently, he noted in passing, to add syntax highlighting to planet.haskell.org.

Now, I can’t be certain about this, but I suspect that Don’s question was cleverly designed to instill in me a subtle case of syntax-highlighting envy. For on my blog, Haskell code snippets were rendered in dreadfully boring uncolored text. But on his blog, the snippets dance in joyous polychromatic splendor.

Thus I was compelled to add Haskell syntax-highlighting to my blog.

Adding Haskell syntax-highlighting to Typo

My blog runs on the Ruby-on-Rails-powered Typo system, which allows for plug-in text filters. One of the included filters, in fact, is a syntax-highlighting filter for snippets of Ruby, XML, and YAML code. This filter is built upon the Ruby Syntax module, which wasn’t exactly designed for Haskell syntax analysis. So I set out to create a new plug-in filter based upon HsColour.

This task turned out to be easy. All I did was duplicate Typo’s existing syntax-highlighting filter and swap out its filtering code for the following:

IO.popen("HsColour -css", "r+") do |f|
  pid = fork { f.write text; f.close; exit! 0 }
  f.close_write
  text = f.read
  Process.waitpid pid
end

I also tweaked the post-processing regular expressions so that they would whittle away the HTML filler before and after the syntax-highlighted output of HsColour:

text.gsub!(/.*<p()re>/m, ...)
text.gsub!(/<\/pre>.*/m, ...)

A few more tweaks and I was done.

Now I can wrap my Haskell code in <typo:haskell> tags and it, too, will dance in joyous polychromatic splendor:

constructTable tspecs = do
    ecolspecs <- during "argument evaluation" $ do
        toNvps . concat =<< mapM splice tspecs
    let names = map fst ecolspecs
    let evecs = map snd ecolspecs
    vecs <- argof nm $ mapM evalVector evecs
    let vlens = map vlen vecs
    if length (group vlens) == 1
        then return . VTable $ mkTable (zip names vecs)
        else throwError $
             "table columns must be non-empty vectors of equal length"
  where
    nm = "table(...) constructor"
    splice (TCol envp)  = return [envp]
    splice (TSplice e)  = do
        val <- eval e
        case val of
            VTable t ->
                return $ zipWith mkNVP (tcnames t) (elems (tvecs t))
            VList gl ->
                liftM (zipWith mkNVP (map name . elems $ glnames gl)) $
                mapM asVectorNull (elems $ glvals gl)
            _ -> throwError $
                "can't construct table columns from (" ++
                show val ++ ")"
    mkNVP n vec = NVP n (mkNoPosExpr . EVal $ VVector vec)
    name ""     = "NA"
    name n      = n

If you want the filter code, here it is: haskell_controller.rb. Just drop it into components/plugins/textfilters and restart Typo. The corresponding CSS styles can be found in my user-styles.css.

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