I changed the code syntax highlighting on my blog. I was using Syntax Highlighter Javascript tool that does its work on the fly in browser. I wanted something more light-weight to the browser that I can also script easily for my other needs, like building PDF presentations.

I like writing markdown and generating HTML from it, and I like how Github is doing markdown to HTML conversion and syntax highlighting. So, that was the direction I looked for tools. Here’s what I did to change the syntax highlighting on my blog with Ruby tools and without much efforts.

1. Converting HTML to markdown

My old posts were written with wymeditor (that also got removed, btw). So, first I needed a tool to convert everything from HTML to markdown.

I used reverse_markdown gem for that, install it with:

gem install reverse_markdown

I exported my database to csv format, and then converted each HTML post to markdown with this simple script.

require 'csv'
require 'reverse_markdown'

posts = File.read("posts.csv")

CSV.parse(posts, :headers => true) do |row|
  id = "%03d" % row['id']
  File.open("posts/#{id}.md", 'w') do |file|
    file.puts ReverseMarkdown.convert(row['content'].gsub("\r", ''))

The gsub above was used to remove some return characters that somehow got inserted in the HTML. I then manually reviewed the converted files and did a format cleanup to a style that I prefer.

2. Converting markdown to HTML and adding syntax highlight

On my Ubuntu system, I had the install the following dependencies:

sudo apt-get install libicu-dev
sudo apt-get install cmake

Then, install the following gems:

gem install github-markup   # convert markdown to html
gem install github-markdown # github flavored markdown
gem install github-linguist # detect languages, highlight code
gem install redcarpet       # markdown parser
gem install html-pipeline   # html processing filters and utilities

And finally, here the script:

require 'github/markup'
require 'html/pipeline'

Dir.glob('posts/*.md') do |file|
  pipeline = HTML::Pipeline.new [

  result = pipeline.call(File.read(file))

  html_file = "#{file.match('\d+')[0]}.html"
  File.open("html/#{html_file}", 'w') do |file|
    file.puts result[:output].to_s

In the script:

  1. we convert the markdown to html with github-markup, redcarpet and github flavored markdown (HTML::Pipeline::MarkdownFilter uses github-markdown)
  2. we do syntax highlighting (HTML::Pipeline::SyntaxHighlightFilter uses pygments.rb).

pygments.rb is a Ruby wrapper for the Python pygments syntax highlighter.

Finally, having the HTML ready, we just need to include some CSS styles to style the code. You can use pygments.rb gem to generate CSS styles:

Pygments.css('.highlight', :style => "monokai") # if you want a specific theme

Alternatively, you can find some CSS styles for pygments. On my blog I use the jellybeans theme that I also use in my vim.