Created: 2011-07-15 19:03
Updated: 2014-03-01 19:48

Deprecation warning

ionPulse IDE has given me great insights of what I want from an IDE. The main point of ionPulse was to be "a developer's friendly" IDE. However, with majority of code being compiled from C++ its not flexible enough to be truly friendly.

I'm currently in a process of using cpgf to bind all the required Qt 5 elements to Javascript (V8), joining Qt bindings with node.js and plucking what I can from this project to pulse - a new reincarnation of the idea. So head there and check it out!

ionPulse IDE

The goal of the project is to create a fast, fully functional IDE, extendable and customisable by developers using it.

To achieve this goal, the Qt framework is chosen as it provides a native implementation across multiple platforms. The Look & Feel of Qt projects is both suitable for the platform it is executed on and is also customisable using the widely known CSS standard. The flexibility is achieved by providing Javascript bindings to both the IDE plugins (C++) and the whole Qt framework.

Current state

ionPulse IDE currently supports:

  • parsing PHP code into AST database (Berkeley DB XML), which is accessible both from C++ and Javascript code;
  • providing a /filterable/ project tree, consisting of directories, files, php classes and methods, allowing quick and easy code navigation;
  • file editor functionality, which is mostly extended using Javascript. E.g. syntax highlighting for PHP is fully implemented in Javascript;
  • Javascript console (which itself is implemented using Javascript), allowing to execute javascript operations on the fly, allowing to define and use macros, keybindings, with functional capabilities of the underlying framework.
  • Custom user init.js to add the missing bits.

Start Hacking!

Download from SourceForge (due to limited resources, only Mac OS version is available ATM).

Or build it for your platform: preparing your environment can be a somewhat involved task, so this option is currently suggested only to experienced users. Project documentation defines the requirements and instructions for building the project.

Once you get it working, check the files in the main app directory:

  • ionPulse.css - this is where the css is defined (pulling from the user home directory is planned);
  • js/ionPulse.js - this is the main entry for loading the javascript files;
  • ~/.ionPulse/init.js - the user file for customisations.

Create! :)


Lets create a custom syntax highlighter. We'll start this by defining a new file type. The following command will register a file type "text/slides" for all the files which end as ".slides":

registerFileType("slides", "text/slides");

The syntax highligter implemented in ionPulse is a state machine, so our next step is to define some highlighting states and transitions from one state to another:

    "slides/body": {
        "slides/header": textHighlighter.regexTransition(/^\./g, true),
        "slides/space": textHighlighter.regexTransition(/^___$/g, true),
    "slides/header": {
        "slides/body": textHighlighter.regexTransition(/$/g, false),
    "slides/space": {
        "slides/body": textHighlighter.regexTransition(/$/g, false),

Each of the states should already have a default formatting, but in addition to that, we would like to add some semi-states, where the highlighting execution stays in the same state, however the text is formatted differently.

    "slides/body" : {
        "black": /\*[^*]+\*/g,     // some *important* text
        "emphasis": /\/[^\/]+\//g, // some /emphasised/ text

The important bit in syntax highlighting is the text formatting. Lets define it for our states and highlighting rules:

    //                       color,             weight,       italic, size, backgroundColor
    "slides/body":          [toColor('706050'), QFont.Normal, false,  64,   null],
    "slides/header":        [toColor('805040'), QFont.Normal, false,  96,   null],
    "slides/body/black":    [toColor('000000'), QFont.Black,  false,  64,   null],
    "slides/body/emphasis": [toColor('706050'), QFont.Normal, true,   64,   null],
    "slides/space":         [toColor('e0a0a0'), QFont.Normal, false,  500,  null]

The last bit is to set the starting state when highlighting "text/slides" files:

textHighlighter.setDefaultState('text/slides', 'slides/body');

While the syntax highlighter above works ok, we might also want to change the background colour of the file editor. Changing it using backgroundColor parameter in the text formatting description might not be what we want - as it would only change the background colour of the edited text, leaving the editor window colour as it is set by the default stylesheet. The snippet below will change the style of any editor, opened to edit the "text/slides" files:

    function (editor) {
        if ("fileType") === 'text/slides') {
            editor.setStyleSheet("background-color: #fab976");

That's it! Put all the given code into your ~/.ionPulse/init.js file and you'll have a custom syntax highlighter :)

Building Dependencies

The following commands are helpful for MacOS users and are clang specific (with c++11).

cd ~

cd <your dbxml-2.5.16 dir>

patch -p2 < ~/bdbxml-clang.patch

./ -m 'make -j6' \
--with-configure-env="CC=clang CXX=clang++ CXXFLAGS='-std=c++11 -stdlib=libc++ -lc++ -mmacosx-version-min=10.7 -Wno-c++11-narrowing' LDFLAGS='-stdlib=libc++ -lc++ -mmacosx-version-min=10.7'" \
--with-xerces-conf="--disable-network --without-curl" \
  • googlemock
cmake -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=clang -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=clang++ -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS="-std=c++11 -stdlib=libc++ -mmacosx-version-min=10.7 -DGTEST_USE_OWN_TR1_TUPLE=1" ..
cp libgmock.a /usr/local/lib/
cp gtest/libgtest.a /usr/local/lib/
rm -Rf /usr/local/include/gmock/
cp -R ../include/gmock /usr/local/include/gmock


search & replace

  • mark occurences in editor on clicking on varname

editor handler

  • handles key presses, such as tab, (shift) enter etc
  • autoindent on new line
  • home button should go to beginning of the text, after the whitespace, unless it is in that position already - subsequent home key should focus the start of line
  • tabulator should not indent if not on the start of the line

new file

project tree

  • limit max length of each item (+joined ones) - use dots in the middle with full info as a tooltip

bug: caret is gone on refocus editor until a char is typed

reparse files on save

search & replace in files

  • should be possible to delete some results after reviewing

parse php in background thread

layout manager

  • vertical/horizontal split source code tabs e.g. for tests/code
  • support center, north, west, south, east directions to add sub-zones/panels


  • editor reparse on the fly
  • editor position -> php scope
  • typehinting: parse phpDoc

improve Treemodel to provide icons and fonts for dir view

project: move TreeModel to overridable factory

  • make php project override it and add decorators for tree model getData to provide icons, font sizes etc


  • indentation

syntax formatter

tools menu with commands to invoke for dir/file

  • checkstyle
  • phpunit
  • phpspec

html, css, js highlight

? tdd/bdd helper -> switch to/from test by configurable rules

? textMate bundle support

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