New escape mechanism for t-vim

Posted on April 28, 2020

The t-vim module has been on a maintenance only mode for while, so I am happy to announce a release which adds a new feature: a new method to escape to TeX using /BTEX and /ETEX tags.

The t-vim module is a syntax highlighter for ConTeXt which uses vim editor to do the actual syntax highlighting. However, sometimes one needs to use a ConTeXt macro within the code listing, for example to reference a particular line number.

\starttyping and other syntax highlighting methods in ConTeXt, provide a means to escape to TeX. In the old days of MkII, anything inside /BTEX and /ETEX tags was not parsed and passed verbatim to TeX; in MkIV, there is a fancier version of this escape mechanism.

The syntax highlighting in \starttyping is done for a handful of languages for which Hans has written a syntax parser. So, relatively speaking, it is simply to add such an escape mechanism in the parser. But that is not the case for t-vim where the parsing is done by the vim editor according to already existing syntax highlighting files for the editor. And, of course, these files have no specifications for identifying or ignoring content inside /BTEX and /ETEX tags.

I had always been reluctant to add such a feature because I did not see a clean way to add it and, more importantly, there is was a partial escape mechanism which kind-of works. In particular, it was already possible to allow the contents of the Comment region to be passed to TeX. For example, one could reference line numbers as follows:

\usemodule[vim]
\definevimtyping[CPP][syntax=cpp, escape=on, numbering=yes]
\starttext
\startCPP
  double root(double a, double b, double c) { //\someline[ln:root]
    ...
  }
\stopCPP

The function \type{root} defined in \inline[ln:root] \unknown
\stoptext

which gives

Typeset example

So, we can reference a line but we are left with an empty comment marker on line 1. Internally, the contents of the Comment region is passed on as

\SYN[Comment]{...}

So, the TeX macros are inside a group, which means that certain macros cannot be used here. For example, it is not possible to use this escape mechanism to say draw a frame around a function. Enter the new escape mechanism!


The new mechanism is enabled by passing escape=command option to a <vim>typing environment. When this option is enabled, the content between /BTEX and /ETEX is passed directly to ConTeXt. For example, consider the following:

\usemodule[vim]
\definevimtyping[CPP][syntax=cpp, escape=command]
\starttext
\startCPP
  double ... { ... }
  /BTEX\startframedtext[width=\localhsize,corner=round]/ETEX
  double root(double a, double b, double c) {
    ...
  }
  /BTEX\stopframedtext/ETEX
  double ... { ... }
\stopCPP
\stoptext

which gives

Typeset example

Internally, when escape=command is enabled, the 2context.vim script defines a new vim syntax highlighting region:

syntax region vimtypingTEXcomment start="/BTEX" end="/ETEX" transparent oneline containedin=ALL contains=NONE

When parsing the file, contents of this region are passed directly to TeX (without any wrapping \SYN[...]{...}). A big thanks to Christoph Hinterm├╝ller, who submitted a pull request which implements this feature.

One needs to be aware that The <vim>typing environment uses a catcode table where only \, { and } have their usual meaning, \n is active and mapped to \obeyedline and space is active and mapped to \obeyedspace. As a consequence:

The old mechanism is now mapped to escape=comment; it can still be activated using escape=on for backward compatibility reasons. For now, only one of the escape mechanisms can be implemented. If someone can provide a convincing argument why both are needed simultaneously, it is not too difficult to provide an interface to implement both.

Stay tuned. Christoph also has a pull request which enables proper tagging for <vim>typing, which allow these environments to be used in tagged PDF documents and will export properly to XML. More on that later.


This entry was posted in T-Vim and tagged code formatting.