sspkmnd / AAAPackageDev

Tools to ease the creation of snippets, syntax definitions, etc. for Sublime Text.

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AAAPackageDev is a Sublime Text 2 and 3 plugin that helps create and edit syntax definitions, snippets, completions files, build systems and other Sublime Text extensions.

The general workflow looks like this:

  • run new_* command (new_raw_snippet, new_completions, new_yaml_syntax_def...)
  • edit file (with specific snippets, completions, higlighting, build systems...)
  • save file

AAAPackageDev new_* commands are typically accessible through the Command Palette (Ctrl+Shift+P).

Getting Started

  1. After installing Package Control, use the Command Palette (Ctrl+Shift+P) to select Install Package and then search for AAAPackageDev.
  2. Access commands from Tools | Packages | Package Development or the Command Palette.

Alternatively, download and install AAAPackageDev manually. (See installation instructions for .sublime-package files.)

Syntax Definition Development

In AAAPackageDev, syntax definitions are written in YAML (previously JSON). Sublime Text uses Plist XML files with the .tmLanguage extensions, so they need to be converted before use if you want to modify an already existing. The conversion is done through the included build system Convert to.... You can then run the command Rearrange YAML Syntax Definition from the Command Palette to sort all lines reasonably and insert line breaks where they're useful. Alternatively you can run Convert to YAML and Rearrange Syntax Definition to do everything at once.

Creating a New Syntax Definition

  1. Create new template (through Tools | Packages | Package Development) or the Command Palette
  2. Select Convert to ... build system from Tools | Build System or leave as Automatic
  3. Press F7 or Ctrl+B

Other included resources for syntax definition development:

  • Syntax highlighting, including Oniguruma regular expressions
  • A command to rearrange unsorted (or alphabetically sorted) syntax definitions in YAML. See the command's detailed docstring in for parameters and more.
  • Static and dynamic completions
    • All basic keys like name and captures.
    • Numbers will automatically be turned into capture groups. This means that typing 4<tab> results in '4': {name: }.
    • Scope names are completed as per TextMate naming conventions, with the last section being the base scope name.
    • Includes are completed as per defined repository keys.

For a good example definition (as to why using YAML is way better than the plain Plist), see the syntax definition for YAML-tmLanguage files: Sublime Text Syntax Def (YAML).YAML-tmLanguage

"Convert to..." Build System

The "Convert to..." build system can interchangably convert JSON, YAML and Plist files. The source format is automatically detected, as long as it's possible, and will then prompt you for the target file's format. While this is primarily used for syntax definition it can be used for any file.

It will also adjust the target file's extension, following a few rules:

  • I am json.json will be parsed into I am json.plist.
  • I am json.JSON-propertyList will be parsed into I am json.propertyList.

You can override both, the target format and the extension, by providing an options dict in one of the first three lines of a file. An options dict is indicated by a line comment with following [PackageDev]. Everything to the end of the line commend (or --> for Plist) will then be treated as a YAML dict.

Currently supported options are: * target_format, options: plist, yaml and json * ext, without leading .

Example (YAML): # [PackageDev] target_format: plist, ext: tmLanguage

Note: The JSON parser can handle JavaScript-like // and `` /* */`` comments.

Package Development

Resources for package development are in a very early stage.


Window command. Prompts for a name and creates a new package skeleton in Packages.
Window command. Opens file browser at Packages.

Build System Development

  • Syntax definition for .build-system files.

Key Map Development

  • Syntax definition for .sublime-keymap files.
  • Completions
  • Snippets

Snippet Development

AAAPackageDev provides a means to edit snippets using snippets. These snippets are called raw snippets. You can use snippets and snippet-like syntax in many files, but if you want to create .sublime-snippet files, you need to convert raw snippets first. This converion is done with a command.

Inside AAAPackageDev/Support you will find a .sublime-keymap file. The key bindings in it are included for reference. If you want them to work, you need to copy the contents over to your personal .sublime-keymap file under Packages/User.

Creating Snippets

  1. Create new raw snippet with included commands (Tools | Packages | Package Development or Command Palette)
  2. Edit snippet
  3. If needed, convert to .sublime-snippet with included command

You can use raw snippets directly in some files, like .sublime-completions files.

Completions Development

  • Syntax definition for .sublime-completions files
  • Snippets

You can use raw snippets directly in the contents element of a trigger-based completion.

Settings File Development

  • Syntax definition for .sublime-settings files
  • Snippets

About Snippets in AAAPackageDev

The AAAPackageDev/Snippets folder contains many snippets for all kinds of development mentioned above. These snippets follow memorable rules to make their use easy.

The snippets used more often have short tab triggers like f (field), c (completion), k (key binding), etc. In cases where increasingly complex items of a similar kind might exist (numbered fields, fields with place holders and fields with substitutions in the case of snippets), their tab triggers will consist in a repeated character, like f, ff and fff.

As a rule of thumb, the more complex the snippet, the longer its tab trigger.

Also, i (for item) is often a generic synonym for the most common snippet in a type of file. In such cases, ii and even longer tab triggers might work too for consistency.

Sublime Library

AAAPackageDev includes sublime_lib, a Python package with utilities for plugin developers. Once AAAPackageDev is installed, sublime_lib will be added to Python's PATH and importable from any other plugin.


Tools to ease the creation of snippets, syntax definitions, etc. for Sublime Text.



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