command line syntax highlighter
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clp writes input files to stdout with syntax highlighting. It aims to be relatively fast, provide wide language support, and be easy to extend with new languages. It currently supports 150 languages.


Language support is implemented with LPEG, a tool developed by PUC which uses parsing expression grammars to improve upon traditional regex parsers (described in depth in this article).

More information is available here, along with a blog post showing how I use it with fzf.



brew tap jpe90/clp
brew install jpe90/clp/clp

Building from source


$ ./configure
$ make
# make install

Distro Specific Dependencies

# apt-get install -y build-essential pkg-config libluajit-5.1-dev lua-lpeg
# pacman -S --needed --noconfirm base-devel pkg-config luajit lua51-lpeg


$ clp [options] filename

-t, --override-filetype {filetype}

Force a language's syntax for highlighting the file. To see available filetypes, run clp --list-overrides

-h, --highlight-line {number}

Highlight a non-blank line


Existing syntax highlighting programs are either relatively slow or support a small number of languages. clp aims to be faster without compromising on language support.

Here are some quick benchmarks comparing similar programs running on my machine (clp installed with LuaJIT, highlighting sqlite3.c)

Command Mean [ms] Min [ms] Max [ms] Relative
clp sqlite3.c 216.6 ± 2.4 212.2 220.8 1.00
bat --color=always sqlite3.c 3161.0 ± 12.3 3149.7 3182.7 14.59 ± 0.17
source-highlight sqlite3.c 4313.6 ± 25.5 4277.7 4355.9 19.91 ± 0.25

More benchmarks are available here

Parsers are upstreamed from the Scintillua project. It's actively maintained, has great support even for niche languages, and easy to use relative to other syntax definition mechanisms.


clp can be configured in ~/.config/clp/clprc.lua:

clprc = {}
clprc.theme = "ansi-16"
return clprc

Changing your colorscheme

Instructions available here.


Contributions are welcome! Feel free to send a pull request on Github or a patch on Sourcehut.