I went ahead and made this a package with the name “Project Specific Syntax Settings” installable via Package Control. The package is only compatible with Sublime Text 3. Check it out on GitHub.

At any given time, I have several projects that I’m working on or maintaining. It’s not uncommon for these projects to use different technology stacks (Meteor, Jekyll, Backbone, etc), and since I mainly develop web applications, these projects almost always include HTML files. Each stack, however, generally has its own HTML templating engine with its own syntax. It could be Handlebars, Liquid, Underscore, etc. This is where a stock Sublime Text setup falls short.

There’s no built in way (that I could find) to configure one project to use a specific syntax highligher for HTML files, and another project to use a different syntax highlighter. I searched for solutions to the problem, but came up empty, so I decided I may as well write my first Sublime Text plugin. And today I share it with you.

First off, you’ll need to save the python code below to a file in your Packages/User directory. Where this directory is located depends on your system. On MacOS, it’s at ~/Library/Application Support/Sublime Text 3/Packages/User. Give the file a name such as project_specific_file_syntax.py.

import os.path
import re
import sublime_plugin

class ProjectSpecificFileSyntax(sublime_plugin.EventListener):
    def on_load(self, view):
        filename = view.file_name()
        if not filename:

        syntax = self._get_project_specific_syntax(view, filename)
        if syntax:
            self._set_syntax(view, syntax)

    def _get_project_specific_syntax(self, view, filename):
        project_data = view.window().project_data()

        if not project_data:
            return None

        syntax_settings = project_data.get('syntax_override', {})

        for regex, syntax in syntax_settings.items():
            if re.search(regex, filename):
                return syntax

        return None

    def _set_syntax(self, view, syntax):
        syntax_path = os.path.join('Packages', *syntax)


Now, you just need to add a syntax_override section to your .sublime-project file, like so.


    "syntax_override": {
        "\\.html$": [ "HTML Underscore Syntax", "HTML (Underscore)" ]

The syntax_override section can contain as many key/value pairs as you like. The key should be a regular expression that will be matched against the name of the file. Note that the . in .html has to be escaped to \. since it will match any character otherwise. And since this is a JSON string, we need to escape the slash, so we end up with \\.. The value in the key/value pair should be an array containing two strings. The first string is the name of the package containing the syntax file and the second is the name of the syntax. Root around in Sublime Text’s directory structure to find files that end with .tmLanguage. The names of these files (minus the .tmLanguage extension) are what you would use for the second string.

Unfortunately, Sublime Text 2 users are out of luck as the plugin API for that version does not appear to provide access to project settings. You’ll just have to upgrade to Sublime Text 3. Happy coding!

Got any comments or questions about this post? Let me have it in the comments section below.