Language contributor checklist

1. Know that you are creating a 3rd party grammar

Sadly, due to lack of maintainer time we no longer merge new languages grammars into the core library. Instead, the project works by encouraging 3rd party language grammar development by willing contributors ready to help and maintain them. We’re also happy to host those 3rd party language grammars at the highlightjs GitHub organization. Or you’re welcome to host yourself - we’re always happy to link to to new language grammars.

We also make it easy to build, maintain, and distribute 3rd party grammar modules so that Highlight.js can always be easily extended with new languages. Using a 3rd party language (for end users) is often as simple as just adding a single line of code to their JavaScript or build system.

We’d love to have your grammar as a 3rd party language module if you’d be willing to maintain it over time. It’s easy to develop and publish a 3rd party language module. If you already started work in the main source tree - it’s trivial to convert your existing work into a 3rd party module. (you pretty much just move your files into a new project folder)

2. Read extra/

Next, read extra/ This should provide you with a very high-level overview of the steps for creating a third-party language grammar for Highlight.js.

3. Create a language grammar definition file

The file defines a function accepting a reference to the library and returning a language object. The library parameter (hljs) is useful to access common modes and regexps. You should not immediately call this function (you only need to export it). Calling it is handled by the build process and details differ for different build targets.

export default function(hljs) {
  return {
    name: "Language Name",
    keywords: 'foo bar',
    contains: [ ..., hljs.NUMBER_MODE, ... ]

The name of the file is used as a short language identifier and should be usable as a class name in HTML and CSS. Typically you’ll place this file in your new grammar repository under my_new_grammar/src/languages/.

4. Add language metadata

At the top of the file there is a specially formatted comment with meta data processed by a build system. Meta data format is simply key-value pairs each occupying its own line:

Language: Superlanguage
Requires: java.js, sql.js
Author: John Smith <>
Contributors: Mike Johnson <...@...>, Matt Wilson <...@...>
Description: Some cool language definition

Language — the only required header giving a human-readable language name.

Requires — a list of other language files required for this language to work. This make it possible to describe languages that extend definitions of other ones. Required files aren’t processed in any special way. The build system just makes sure that they will be in the final package in LANGUAGES object.

The meaning of the other headers should be pretty obvious.

5. Create a code example

The code example is used both to test language detection and for the demo page on Put it in test/detect//default.txt.

Take inspiration from other languages in test/detect/ and read testing instructions for more details.

6. Write a class reference if your class uses custom classes

A class reference document should typically be placed at the root of your language repository:

Describe shortly names of all meaningful modes used in your language definition.

Note: If you use custom classes please be aware that all the build-in themes are not going to support your custom classes and you should likely also distribute your own custom theme.
7. Request a repository at the highlightjs organization

This is optional. Of course you are free to host your repository anywhere you would like.

8. Create a pull request

Submit a PR to add your language to