I wanted to have syntax highlighting for a big SQL file I was working on. Finding a solution didn’t take my too long. Source-highlight given a source file, produces a document with syntax highlighting. Output formats that are supported:

  • HTML
  • ANSI
  • DocBook

Input formats that are supported:

  • Ada
  • Asm
  • Applescript
  • Awk
  • Autoconf files
  • Bat
  • Bib
  • Bison
  • C/C++
  • C#
  • CakePhp templates
  • Clipper
  • Cobol
  • Configuration files (generic)
  • Caml
  • Changelog
  • Css
  • D
  • Diff
  • Erlang
  • errors (compiler output)
  • Flex
  • Fortran
  • GLSL
  • Haskell
  • Haskell literate programming
  • Haxe
  • Html
  • ini files
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • KDE desktop files
  • Latex
  • Ldap files
  • Lisp
  • Logtalk
  • Log files
  • lsm files (Linux Software Map)
  • Lua
  • Makefile
  • Manifest
  • M4
  • ML
  • Oz
  • Pascal
  • Perl
  • pkg-config files
  • PHP
  • Postscript
  • Prolog
  • Properties files
  • Protobuf (Google’s Protocol Buffers)
  • Python
  • RPM Spec files
  • Ruby
  • Scala
  • Shell
  • S-Lang
  • Sql
  • Tcl
  • Texinfo
  • Vala
  • VBscript
  • XML
  • XOrg conf files

Exactly what I needed!

For Debian/Ubuntu get source-highlight to work is just as simple as:

apt-get install source-highlight

And adding these two environment variables (to .bashrc):

export LESSOPEN="| /usr/share/source-highlight/src-hilite-lesspipe.sh %s"
export LESS=' -R '

The result looks like this:

source-highlight SQL file

source-highlight SQL file

Be sure this line isn’t present in your .bashrc because it will interfere with source-highlight:

[ -x /usr/bin/lesspipe ] && eval "$(lesspipe)"

For CentOS/Red Hat the procedure will be comparable, but I don’t now for sure if a RPM package of source-highlight is available.


17 comments so far

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  1. Philipp

    The package name is the same in Fedora 15.

  2. tersmitten

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Marshall

    Any way to make this work with “<"?

    I never type "less" if I can type "<".

    I got it working otherwise.

  4. Scott


  5. Michael Aye

    I have no recognition of this Fortran code. source-highlight works fine via less with python though:

    program pnpolexy
    implicit none
    include ‘pipe1.inc’
    character*80 desfile,junk
    character*48 lonparam,latparam
    integer*4 loncol,latcol
    integer*4 ios,iunit,ndeslines,ifound
    real*8 lon,lat,pi,npolex,npoley


    call getcmdchar(‘lon’,1,’required’,ifound, lonparam)
    call getcmdchar(‘lat’,1,’required’,ifound, latparam)

    c check for descriptor file in command line
    call getcmdchar(‘des’,1,’optional’,ifound, desfile)

    if( ifound .eq. 1 ) then
    c if des found, read from unit 7
    c else, get descriptor from standard input
    call pdesread(iunit, desfile, cdesheader,
    & cdesstitle, cdesltitle,
    & ndeslines)

    Is it because this code seems to NOT use F90 freedom and instead keeps using F77 rules?

  6. Michael Aye

    ah, the indentation of course got lost here. But anybody else having it work fine for Fortran77/90?

  7. Joj

    Better yet: instead of commenting out the “lesspipe” line in .bashrc, keep it and use lesspipe’s “~/.lessfilter” functionality with something like this:


    file “$1” | grep -q text && \
    /usr/share/source-highlight/src-hilite-lesspipe.sh “$1”

    to get the best of both worlds!

  8. Knusper

    Really usefull… Thanks for mentioning it

  9. skrat

    Kicks ass

  10. Vijay Desai

    Very helpful. Thanks a lot.

  11. arth

    Thank for -R option sharing)

  12. gphilip

    In RedHat distros it’s

  13. Daniel

    Nice 🙂

  14. Stratos Nikolaidis

    Amazing! Thanks!

  15. Thiago

    Thank you very much!

  16. ronan

    this works fine when I run less against a file, but not when I read from a pipe, e.g. xmllint –format | less
    I have commented out the lesspipe line as you specify

  17. RTbecard

    Fantastic! This worked perfectly for me (Ubuntu 18.04, zsh).