Looking Inside the Pygments Plugin

This blog uses pygments.rb for syntax highlighting. Recently pygments.rb stopped working, so I had to dig inside to determine the problem and apply a solution.

Full disclosure: Pygments didn’t simply stop working. I applied updates related to Octopress and lunr.js, and then it stopped working. So the root cause is me! Rather than back-out the updates, I decided to push forward because lunr.js will improve the search experience for visitors. Search options will be discussed in a future post.

Starting With the Error Message

As with all Octopress based blogs, the $ rake generate command creates a new set of static pages every time the command gets run. Normally the process is smooth. Here’s the error message that resulted this morning.

~$ rake generate


jekyll 2.0.3 | Error:  Pygments can't parse unknown language: </p>.


What unknown language? Something was fishy. Fortunately, pygments is an open source plugin. Solving the problem was non-trivial, but doable.

Exploring Pygments Internals

Google, Stack Overflow, and the Octopress documentation gave clues on where to explore. Adding a few lines to source/plugins/pygments_code.rb provided insights on what pygments was “thinking”.

require 'pygments'
require 'fileutils'
require 'digest/md5'

PYGMENTS_CACHE_DIR = File.expand_path('../../.pygments-cache', __FILE__)

module HighlightCode
  def self.highlight(str, lang)

    # Next three lines let us see what pygments "thinks".
    print "\n\nrth_str = #{str}"
    print "\nrth_lang = #{lang}"
    print "\nrth_file = #{__FILE__}\n\n"



Observing the Results, Applying a Solution

Next step: Run $ rake generate and see what happens. Turns out that the lastest version of pygments halted for two reasons:

Vim-fu allowed me to apply solutions with minimal manual work. And now pygments works well.

On to search, to be discussed in a future blog post.