Read TextMate syntax files and parse text with them.

Improvements over old textpow:

  • Ruby 1.8 and 1.9 support

  • Tested, documented, refactored and made faster

  • Added tons of syntax files lib/textpow/syntax

  • Most nested (“include”) syntaxes work out of the box


gem install textpow1x

Ruby 1.8

Install oniguruma

# Ubuntu
sudo apt-get -y install libonig-dev

# OSX via brew or port
brew install onigumura
port install oniguruma5

# Then
gem install oniguruma


  1. Load a Syntax File list of included syntax

require 'textpow'
syntax = Textpow.syntax('ruby') # or 'source.ruby' or 'lib/textpow/syntax/source.ruby.syntax'
  1. Initialize a processor:

processor =
  1. Parse some text:

syntax.parse(text,  processor)


Syntax files are written with Textmate grammer. They are written in text/binary/xml/yaml format (all can be translated into each other). Textpow can understand the yaml form (ending in .syntax) and the xml form (ending in .tmSyntax or .plist or tmLanguage) via plist library, but not the text or binary form. All syntax files shipped with textpow are in the yaml form, since its easiest to read and less verbose.

Adding a new syntax:

  • add download location and scopeName to update_syntax task in Rakefile

  • rake update_syntax

  • run tests rake to see if the syntax is parseable


A processors is a hook that is called while parsing a text. It must implement these methods:

class MyProcessor
  def open_tag(tag_name, position_in_current_line); end
  def close_tag(tag_name, position_in_current_line); end

  # called before processing a line
  def new_line(line_content); end

  # called before parsing anything
  def start_parsing(scope_name); end

  # called before parsing everything
  def end_parsing(scope_name); end

Textpow ensures that the methods are called in parsing order. If there are two subsequent calls to open_tag, the first having name="text.string", position=10 and the second having name="markup.string", position=10, it means that the "markup.string" tag is inside the "text.string" tag.


  • smart + mel + applescript have some invalid utf8 characters that are currently ignored (search for INVALID_UTF8))

  • fix markdown and php syntax

  • parse text plist files example

  • update more languages via github urls