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"For syntax highlighting, any form of OT or CRDT is overkill; the highlighting is a stateless function of the document, so if there's a conflict, you can just toss the highlighting state and start again."

I first became interested in CRDTs in a case where this wasn't really true. I was writing an IDE for a custom in-house DSL - think of the application as a special language for interacting with a gigantic and very strange database. Basically, the problem was that the use case really stretched the bounds of what is normally done with syntax highlighting. Some requirements:

- It had syntax and semantic highlighting, where the visual feedback associated with a term would depend on the results of queries to the remote database

- It had to be able to handle documents of several megabytes (and many thousands of terms) fairly smoothly, with as little noticeable lag or flicker as possible

- It couldn't swamp the database with unnecessary requests

- The document itself had implicit procedural state (e.g. if you wrote a command that, if evaluated, would alter the state of a term on the database, appearances of that term later in the document needed to be highlighted as if those changes had already been applied)

So I definitely couldn't throw out metadata and start over with every change. I ended up with a kind of algebraic editing model that allowed me to put bounds on what needed to be updated with every edit and calculate a minimal set of state changes to flow forward. It was extraordinarily complicated. I never got around to learning enough about CRDTs to determine if they'd be simpler than the solution I came up with, but they do seem to target some similar issues.




Yeah definitely. I would consider this a form of semantic analysis, of the kind provided by Language Server implementations rather than the kind of syntax highlighting provided by syntect. Also note, the syntax highlighting done in xi-editor is both incremental and async[11]. This actually worked out well, and I would preserve it going forward. What I wrote above actually overstates the case, I think the ideal solution is an extremely simple form of OT so you can reuse as much as possible of the already-computed highlighting state, but you certainly throw away the highlighting result for the region being edited. Preserving "before" is trivial, and preserving "after" should be a simple matter of fixing up line counts.

[11]: https://xi-editor.io/docs/rope_science_11.html




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