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Multiple Language Syntax Highlighting, Part 2: C# Control

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3.18 (16 votes)
12 Mar 2003
Fast and furious colorizing library for source code (C, C++, VBScript, JScript, xml, etc.)


This article is an upgrade of the code submitted in Multiple Language Syntax Highlighting, Part 1: JScript, where a syntax highlighting scheme was proposed.

The technique and ideas for parsing have not change and, therefore, I will not explain the parsing/rendering process in this article. The user who would need more detailled can refer the article cited above. I must also point out that this article is intended to replace entirely the Javascript code in a ( near ?) future. 

As the previous article was an exercice to learn JScript, XSL and regular expression, I used this one to get a first contact with C#.

In the rest of the article, I will refer to the Javascript version as v1.0 and the C# as v2.0.

Moving to C#

As a C++ developper, I can tell you I was glad to quit JavaScript and get started with C# who had a much better (C++) flavour.

Wrapping of the JScript methods in a single C# was quite straightforward and doesn't not deserve much comments.  

CodeColorizer Class

This class is the kernel of the parser. You can colorize code using CodeColorizer.ProcessAndHighlightCode( string ).

Having that job done and the ported code running after fairly small time, it was time to use the power of C# and get things better.

New features

Avoiding Regular Expression Object Construction

In the v1.0, regular expression objects were created each time the parser would change context, although the regular expression string was remaining the same. This was leading to a great number of allocation-compilation of Regex objects (although I have question about object pooling, see Open question below).

A first improvement of the library was to store the Regex objects into a HashTable when parsing the syntax. The class implementing this dictionary is Collections.RegexDictionary.

Hence, when parsing, regular expression object do not need to be built and can be retreived in constant time from the table.

Open Question: does .NET cache regular expression strings in a pool ?

Handling the Case

The case sensitivity of a language can be specified using the argument not-case-sensitive={"yes" or "no" (default)} with the node language.


The parser contains a timer/counter ( see [1] for details ) to bench the transformation. At the end of the article, some benchmarking results are presented. 

Bencharkming quantities are:

  • CodeColorizer.BenchmarkPerChar who returns the number of second to parse a character.
  • CodeColorizer.BenchmarkAvgSec, the parsing time average,
  • CodeColorizer.BenchmarkSec, the last job parsing time

Easier Integration

The library comes with a custom web control that colorizes text.

The Project:

The projects shows the usage of the custom colorizer control. For further details, NDOC documentation has been generated.

You must modify web.config to specify where the xml, xsl files are. See ColorizerLibrary section.



[1]High Performance timer in C#
[2]Multiple Language Syntax Highlighting, Part 1: JScript


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Jonathan de Halleux
United States United States
Jonathan de Halleux is Civil Engineer in Applied Mathematics. He finished his PhD in 2004 in the rainy country of Belgium. After 2 years in the Common Language Runtime (i.e. .net), he is now working at Microsoft Research on Pex (

Comments and Discussions

GeneralDistributing modified code Pin
Eric Woodruff15-Nov-06 20:12
professionalEric Woodruff15-Nov-06 20:12 
Generalrunning the demo Pin
Ori-2-Sep-06 3:38
MemberOri-2-Sep-06 3:38 
Generalsource code Pin
zikha14-Aug-06 0:33
Memberzikha14-Aug-06 0:33 
QuestionHow to integrate into the IDE Pin
Anonymous17-Dec-04 8:05
MemberAnonymous17-Dec-04 8:05 
GeneralC# Syntax Pin
Bassam Abdul-Baki27-Apr-04 3:24
professionalBassam Abdul-Baki27-Apr-04 3:24 
GeneralRe: C# Syntax Pin
Jonathan de Halleux27-Apr-04 3:40
MemberJonathan de Halleux27-Apr-04 3:40 
GeneralRe: C# Syntax Pin
Bassam Abdul-Baki27-Apr-04 7:20
professionalBassam Abdul-Baki27-Apr-04 7:20 
GeneralRe: C# Syntax Pin
Jonathan de Halleux28-Apr-04 22:19
MemberJonathan de Halleux28-Apr-04 22:19 
GeneralRe: C# Syntax Pin
Bassam Abdul-Baki29-Apr-04 2:09
professionalBassam Abdul-Baki29-Apr-04 2:09 
GeneralRe: C# Syntax Pin
Jonathan de Halleux29-Apr-04 2:14
MemberJonathan de Halleux29-Apr-04 2:14 
GeneralHay alguna api para controlar llmadas telefonicas con net2phone Pin
MarcelCH1-Apr-04 6:10
MemberMarcelCH1-Apr-04 6:10 
GeneralRe: Calling C# functions from MFC/C++ Pin
Alex Evans16-Feb-04 9:27
MemberAlex Evans16-Feb-04 9:27 
GeneralRe: Calling C# functions from MFC/C++ Pin
Dave Bacher3-Mar-06 9:01
MemberDave Bacher3-Mar-06 9:01 
GeneralCalling C# functions from MFC/C++ Pin
Alex Evans15-Feb-04 19:10
MemberAlex Evans15-Feb-04 19:10 
GeneralRe: Calling C# functions from MFC/C++ Pin
Jonathan de Halleux15-Feb-04 21:54
MemberJonathan de Halleux15-Feb-04 21:54 
QuestionRTF? Pin
Beater23-Jun-03 18:58
MemberBeater23-Jun-03 18:58 
AnswerRe: RTF? Pin
Jonathan de Halleux23-Jun-03 21:07
MemberJonathan de Halleux23-Jun-03 21:07 
GeneralRe: RTF? Pin
Ricardo Mendes6-Oct-03 8:01
MemberRicardo Mendes6-Oct-03 8:01 
GeneralRe: RTF? Pin
Jonathan de Halleux6-Oct-03 8:32
MemberJonathan de Halleux6-Oct-03 8:32 
GeneralOther langages supported Pin
DD le postier31-Mar-03 4:04
MemberDD le postier31-Mar-03 4:04 
GeneralRe: Other langages supported Pin
Jonathan de Halleux28-Jul-03 13:30
MemberJonathan de Halleux28-Jul-03 13:30 
GeneralGood stuff Pin
Rudi Larno12-Mar-03 21:07
sussRudi Larno12-Mar-03 21:07 
GeneralWhen??? Pin
Jonathan de Halleux13-Mar-03 0:37
MemberJonathan de Halleux13-Mar-03 0:37 
GeneralIn answer to your open question... Pin
Ceiled12-Mar-03 5:56
MemberCeiled12-Mar-03 5:56 
GeneralThough! Pin
Jonathan de Halleux12-Mar-03 7:24
MemberJonathan de Halleux12-Mar-03 7:24 

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Posted 10 Mar 2003


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