Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ScintillaNET starter kit

I have searched long and hard across the Internet for a simple "hello world" style example of using ScintillaNET's control. This thing has it all. You name the language, and it will give you a textbox that can syntax highlight for that language, plus dozens of other features like code folding and so forth.
But how to use it? For those of us without much "unmanaged code" experience, the Scintilla web site's documentation can be very initimidating. ScintillaNET's documentation (at least at this point in time) is fairly thin. It simply says "for the details, look at Scintilla's documentation". Today I discovered the reason for that--it's actually surprisingly easy to use the ScintillaNET control! With a very flexible licensing agreement, it's a wonder this thing hasn't gone mainstream in the .NET community. Perhaps with this simple example, I can get that started.

I used Visual Studio 2010 to do this, but any version for .NET 2.0 or higher should suffice.

Step 1): Get the source code, build ScintillaNET, and reference ScintillaNET.dll from a Windows Forms project. (Note: WPF may or may not work with the WindowsFormHost XAML tag allowing Windows Forms controls to be loaded into the XAML structure. I haven't tried that.)

Step 2): Go to your visual designer, and look in the toolbox. There is a control named "Scintilla". Drag that to your form.

Step 3): You'll need to tell it what language to use for syntax highlighting. Scintilla supports a TON of languages:
In my case, I was making an XML editing control, so I chose to set the language to "xml" in my form's onload event (note, in this code snippet, scnMain is the name of the Scintilla control I dragged onto the form):
private void ctlScintillaNETXml_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
scnMain.ConfigurationManager.Language = "xml";

Step 4): Set or get scnMain.Text as appropriate to get a string of code (or in my case, XML markup). That's it! Fire it up and watch the awesomeness that is Scintilla. How easy was that? Enjoy.