Alternative method for opening Smarty templates with HTML syntax highlighting in gedit

Here is an update to a previous post regarding how to get gedit to recognise Smarty template *.tpl files. I’ve found that gedit prefers to use the mime type to decide what type of file it is and therefore what syntax highlighting to apply.

After a little investigation I found that most of my .tpl files were being identified as text/plain in Nautilus (found by right-clicking on the file and selecting properties, on the basic tab the type field will tell you the mime type nautilus is seeing it as)

My new solution to this problem is to convince nautilus (and gedit) that the *.tpl files are in fact HTML files and therefore syntax highlight them in the same way, and here’s how to do it:

  1. Make a backup of your file with the following commands:

    cd /usr/share/mime/packages
    sudo cp

  2. Edit the file as a super user:

    sudo gedit /usr/share/mime/packages/

  3. Search the file for “*.php” (without the quotes). You should find a section with:

    <glob pattern="*.php"/>
    <glob pattern="*.php3"/>
    <glob pattern="*.php4"/>

  4. Add a new glob entry for tpl files by adding the line:

    <glob pattern="*.tpl"/>

  5. Save and close the file then run the following command which should be fairly self-explanatory:

    sudo update-mime-database /usr/share/mime

  6. Nautilus and gedit should now recognise .tpl files as html files and syntax highlight as such

The only drawback with this option (and I consider it a rather minor inconvenience) is that double clicking your tpl files will try and open them in Firefox by default now, you can change this to open in gedit by default but then all your .html and .htm files will open in gedit by default too.

You choose which you prefer, I personally have no problem leaving them to open in Firefox by default since I rarely double click tpl files in nautilus, I usually use the file browser plugin in gedit.

Thanks to a suggestion by Sudhanshu I’ve edited the post to add the tpl entry to the php section of the file instead of the html section. The benefit of this is that you can now double click tpl files and have them open in the same application as php files (usually gedit) while html files will still open in your browser.

As always comments are appreciated on whether this was helpful or if you’ve found a better way.

Smarty template syntax highlighting with gedit

Update: I have posted an alternative way to do the same thing this post describes, the alternative way should be more reliable. See it here

I’ve started using gedit as my code editor after a couple of niggles with bluefish and wanted my smarty templates (*.tpl) to use the same syntax highlighting as HTML. Not wanting to have to manually select the language each time I open a .tpl file I went searching for a way to add them to the definition of what an html file is. I was getting frustrated with all the references to a syntax highlighting tab in the preferences dialog that just didn’t exist! Even the help file in gedit 2.22.1 still mentions the syntax highlighting tab but I can assure you it’s not there.

The solution I came up with was to manually edit the HTML language definition file for gtksourceview which is what gedit uses to define the syntax highlighting. To achieve this you must change the following line in the /usr/share/gtksourceview-2.0/language-specs/html.lang file:

<property name="globs">*.html;*.htm</property>


<property name="globs">*.html;*.htm;*.tpl</property>

Or download my version here (html.lang) of the file and run the following command:

Backup existing file

cd /usr/share/gtksourceview-2.0/language-specs
sudo cp html.lang html.lang_bkup

Then move the downloaded version of the file into place (this assumes you download the file and extracted it to your home directory)

sudo mv ~/html.lang /usr/share/gtksourceview-2.0/language-specs/html.lang

Restart gedit and when you next open a .tpl file it will be highlighted in the same way as an HTML file.