Category Archives: KDE

Rendering issues and the power of open source

After a long time of constant distraction by my daily work, I finally found again a bit time to take care of KTextEditor/Kate/… issues.

One thing that really started to be an itch I wanted to scratch is some rendering fault that occur with ‘special’ font sizes.

Given I wanted to do again a bit work on the macOS port, I was really annoyed that on my screen the only application with text rendering issues was “my” one :/

I assume a lot of people have sometimes seen stuff like that in KTextEditor based applications like Kate or KDevelop:

These small white lines really stick out like a sore thumb 🙁 It looked like some off-by-one rounding issue, surely one should be able to find it…

I tried to track down where in our rendering in KTextEditor we do create these artifacts, but I never found any place that looks like a possible cause.

After a bit more tinkering it became obvious that actually it would be more or less impossible for the KTextEditor code to mess up the painting in such a way, as we normally draw one line more or less as one thing using QTextLayout that handles the painting of the selection background, too.

Using QtCreator as an non-KTextEditor based application that uses the Qt layouting & rendering it was possible to get similar effects on macOS (or X11):

:=) Good thing that Qt is open source. A quick look into the qtextlayout.cpp and a qt5 compile later, I was able to trace the issue down to some qFloor calls for painting the selections.

I hope my patch is correct and will be accepted (QTBUG-66036 / Gerrit 219804)  or at least helps others to do the correct fix.

At least for the syntaxhighlighter example shipped with Qt I was able to reproduce the issue before my patch but not afterwards.

Would Qt not be open-source, I would have been at the end of the line after seeing no “error” in our codebase in KTextEditor.

With Qt as some open-source project, it is a completely different story.

Besides, the Qt documentation for “how to build it” and “how to contribute” on the Qt Wiki are well enough to understand that I was able to nicely compile the stuff from scratch on macOS and provide the Gerrit review request in no time.

Fancy Terminal Prompt

By default, the terminal looks as follows on my Linux distribution:

However, if you are working a lot on the terminal, there are a lot of scripts and tricks available in the net that improve the information displayed in the terminal in many ways. For instance, since many many years, I have the following at the end of my ~/.bashrc:

# use a fancy prompt
PS1="\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\W\[\033[00m\]"
PS1="$PS1 \`if [ \$? = 0 ]; then echo -e '\[\033[01;32m\]:-)';"
PS1="$PS1 else echo -e '\[\033[01;31m\]:-(' \$?; fi\`\[\033[00m\]"
PS1="$PS1 \$(__git_ps1 \"(%s)\") \$ "

Once you open a new terminal, then the appearance is as follows:

As you can see, now I have nice colors: The hostname is green, the folder is blue, the return value of the last executed command is a green 🙂 in case of success (exit code = 0), and a red 🙁 in case of errors (exit code != 0). In addition, the last part shows the current git branch (master). Showing the git branch is very useful especially if you are using arc a lot and work with many branches.

I am sure there are many more cool additions to the terminal. If you have some nice additions, please share – maybe also as a new blog?

KTextEditor depends on KSyntaxHighlighting

Recently, the KSyntaxHighlighting framework was added to the KDE Frameworks 5.29 release. And starting with KDE Frameworks 5.29, KTextEditor depends on KSyntaxHighlighting. This also means that KTextEditor now queries KSyntaxHighlighting for available xml highlighting files. As such, the location for syntax highlighting files changed from $HOME/.local/share/katepart5/syntax to

$HOME/.local/share/org.kde.syntax-highlighting/syntax

So if you want to add your own syntax highlighting files to Kate/KDevelop, then you have to use the new location.

By the way, in former times, all syntax highlighting files were located somewhere in /usr/share/. However, since some time, there are no xml highlighting files anymore, since all xml files are compiled into the KSyntaxHighlighting library by default. This leads to much faster startup times for KTextEditor-based applications.

Running Unit Tests

If you build Kate (or KTextEditor, or KSyntaxHighlighting) from sources and run the unit tests (`make test`), then the location typically is /$HOME/.qttest/share/org.kde.syntax-highlighting/syntax.

KSyntaxHighlighting – A new Syntax Highlighting Framework

Today, KDE Frameworks 5.28 was released with the brand new KSyntaxHighlighting framework. The announcement says:

New framework: syntax-highlighting
Syntax highlighting engine for Kate syntax definitions

This is a stand-alone implementation of the Kate syntax highlighting engine. It’s meant as a building block for text editors as well as for simple highlighted text rendering (e.g. as HTML), supporting both integration with a custom editor as well as a ready-to-use QSyntaxHighlighter sub-class.

This year, on March 31st, KDE’s advanced text editor Kate had its 15th birthday. 15 years are a long time in the software world, and during this time Kate won the hearts of many users and developers. As text editing component, Kate uses the KTextEditor framework, which is used also by applications such as KDevelop or Kile.

The KTextEditor framework essentially is an embeddable text editing component. It ships everything from painting the line numbers, the background color, the text lines with syntax highlighting, the blinking cursor to code completion and many more features. One major feature is its very powerful syntax highlighting engine, enabling us to properly highlight around 275 languages.

Each syntax highlighting is defined in terms of an xml file (many examples), as described in Kate’s documentation. These xml files are read by KTextEditor and the context based highlighting rules in these files are then used to highlight the file contents.

For the last 15 years, this syntax highlighting engine was tightly coupled with the rest of the KTextEditor code. As such, it was not possible to simply reuse the highlighting engine in other projects without using KTextEditor. This lead to the unfortunate situation, where e.g. the Qt Creator developers partly reimplemented Kate’s syntax highlighting engine in order to support other languages next to C/C++.

This changed as of today: The KSyntaxHighlighting framework is a tier 1 functional framework that solely depends on Qt (no dependency on Qt Widgets or QML), is very well unit tested, and licensed under the LGPLv2+. As mentioned in the announcement and in the API documentation, it is a stand-alone implementation of the Kate syntax highlighting engine. It’s meant as a building block for text editors as well as for simple highlighted text rendering (e.g. as HTML), supporting both integration with a custom editor as well as a ready-to-use QSyntaxHighlighter sub-class. This also implies that you can reuse this framework to add syntax highlighting to e.g. QML applications.

We hope that other applications such as Qt Creator will start to use the KSyntaxHighlighting framework, since it allows us to cleanly share one single implementation of the syntax highlighting engine.

In the next KDE Frameworks releases, we will remove KTextEditors syntax highlighting engine in favor of just using KSyntaxHighlighting. This will happen step by step. For instance, we already have a pending patch that removes all xml files from KTextEditor.git in favor of using the ones shipped by the KSyntaxHighlighting framework. That means, with the KDE Frameworks 5.29 release, Kate’s and KTextEditors dependency (and other application’s dependencies) will look as follows:

KTextEditor and KSyntaxHighlighting

This is quite an interesting change, especially since moving the syntax highlighting engine out of KTextEditor was already planned since Akademy 2013 in Bilbao:

Another idea was raised at this year’s Akademy in Bilbao: Split Kate Part’s highlighting into a separate library. This way, other applications could use the Kate Part’s highlighting system. Think of a command line tool to create highlighted html pages, or a syntax highlighter for QTextEdits. The highlighting engine right now is mostly internal to Kate Part, so such a split could happen also later after the initial release of KTextEditor on 5.

This goal is now reached – thanks to Volker Krause who did most of the work. Pretty cool!

If you are interested in using the KSyntaxHighlighting framework, feel free to contact us on our mailing list. Further, we welcome all contributions, so please send patches to our mailing list, or post them on phabricator. (You can also find the KSyntaxHighlighting framework on github for convenience, but it’s not our primary platform).

You can also support Kate and the KDE Frameworks by donating to the KDE e.V., KDE’s non-profit organization.

Update: Changed XML Syntax Definition File Location

Starting with KDE Frameworks 5.29, the KTextEditor framework now uses the syntax highlighting files from KSyntaxHighlighting. These files are located in $HOME/.local/share/org.kde.syntax-highlighting/syntax. If this folder does not exist, just create it. Futher, you will not find any syntax highlighting files in your system installation, since the syntax highlighting files shipped with KSyntaxHighlighting are compiled into the executable.