URL: https://github.com/peterbe/hylite

hylite is a command line tool for syntax highlight code into HTML. You feed it a file or some snippet of code (plus what language it is) and it returns a string of HTML.

Suppose you have:

❯ cat example.py
# This is example.py
def hello():
    return "world"

When you run this through hylite you get:

❯ npx hylite example.py
<span class="hljs-keyword">def</span> <span class="hljs-title function_">hello</span>():
    <span class="hljs-keyword">return</span> <span class="hljs-string">&quot;world&quot;</span>

Now, if installed with the necessary CSS, it can finally render this:

# This is example.py
def hello():
    return "world"

(Note: At the time of writing this, npx hylite --list-css or npx hylite --css don't work unless you've git clone the github.com/peterbe/hylite repo)

How I use it

This originated because I loved how highlight.js works. It supports numerous languages, can even guess the language, is fast as heck, and the HTML output is compact.

Originally, my personal website, whose backend is in Python/Django, was using Pygments to do the syntax highlighting. The problem with that is it doesn't support JSX (or TSX). For example:

export function Bell({ color }: {color: string}) {
  return <div style={{ backgroundColor: color }}>Ding!</div>

The problem is that Python != Node so to call out to hylite I use a sub-process. At the moment, I can't use bunx or npx because that depends on $PATH and stuff that the server doesn't have. Here's how I call hylite from Python:

command = settings.HYLITE_COMMAND.split()
assert language
command.extend(["--language", language, "--wrapped"])
process = subprocess.Popen(
output, error = process.communicate()

The settings are:

HYLITE_DIRECTORY = "/home/django/hylite"
HYLITE_COMMAND = "node dist/index.js"

How I built hylite

What's different about hylite compared to other JavaScript packages and CLIs like this is that the development requires Bun. It's lovely because it has a built-in test runner, TypeScript transpiler, and it's just so lovely fast at starting for anything you do with it.

In my current view, I see Bun as an equivalent of TypeScript. It's convenient when developing but once stripped away it's just good old JavaScript and you don't have to worry about compatibility.

So I use bun for manual testing like bun run src/index.ts < foo.go but when it comes time to ship, I run bun run build (which executes, with bun, the src/build.ts) which then builds a dist/index.js file which you can run with either node or bun anywhere.

By the way, the README as a section on Benchmarking. It concludes two things:

  1. node dist/index.js has the same performance as bun run dist/index.js
  2. bunx hylite is 7x times faster than npx hylite but it's bullcrap because bunx doesn't check the network if there's a new version (...until you restart your computer)


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