Inject language / reference feature of Intellij IDEA

Date published30.07.2018Time to read2 minutes read

One of very neat features of Intellij IDEA that I came across is injecting language / reference feature into String object. Let's jump to code straight away to do simple example:

package rs.dodalovic.inject_reference;

public class InjectReferenceMain {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        final String html = "";

Say we'd quickly want to put some html code into html String variable. We could manually start typing code in, but there's always formatting and escaping double quotes issue in there - that makes us more careful than we don't need to be actually. IDEA helps us avoiding this burden, by doing following:

  • position mouse cursor inside "" String value
  • press Alt + Enter keyboard combination
  • select Inject language or reference and press Enter
  • pick HTML from the list and press Enter

Now, value inside String is context aware, which means that you have code assist now when you want to type the value of String.  You can type <ht  and press Control + Space combination to get code assist. Once doing so - you can see you're getting html aware help:

Context aware help in IDEA

In this case, we're creating HTML context, but there are many things you can choose from drop down list, like JSON, XML and so forth. In this case you'll get also HTML attributes completion (you can even open <script> tag and get Javascript support inside! )

You can also open separate editor to modify html, by pressing Alt + Enter inside String value again, and choosing Edit HTML Fragment and pressing Enter. You will be presented with new editor where you can directly deal with html only:

Separate editor for dealing with specific content

You can see that it directly changes Java code as you type in this new editor. Once you complete typing, you can close this editor by pressing Ctrl + F4 combination.

Once you're complete with html coding, you can un-inject language reference (this should give you back some performance, since Intellij  doesn't need to provide context sensitive information for String anymore. Go to String value, and press Alt + Enter, and select  Un-inject Language/Reference option.

Another, particularly useful case is RegExp choice, which can give you opportunity to test your inputs against regex you build. Just, as described above, inject RegExp flavor into String. After that, using Alt + Enter, choose Check RegExp option. You'll get popup such as one below, which will let you test your regex against various inputs:

Regular expression testing tool in IDEA

Go - experiment with various contexts apart from HTML and RegExp one which we showcased.

That was all for today! Hope you liked it!