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by Remillard ST3

A package for Sublime Text that aids coding in the VHDL language.


  • 1.5.0
  • github.​com
  • github.​com
  • 21 hours ago
  • 28 minutes ago
  • 2 months ago


  • Total 283
  • Win 176
  • OS X 36
  • Linux 71
Sep 26 Sep 25 Sep 24 Sep 23 Sep 22 Sep 21 Sep 20 Sep 19 Sep 18 Sep 17 Sep 16 Sep 15 Sep 14 Sep 13 Sep 12 Sep 11 Sep 10 Sep 9 Sep 8 Sep 7 Sep 6 Sep 5 Sep 4 Sep 3 Sep 2 Sep 1 Aug 31 Aug 30 Aug 29 Aug 28 Aug 27 Aug 26 Aug 25 Aug 24 Aug 23 Aug 22 Aug 21 Aug 20 Aug 19 Aug 18 Aug 17 Aug 16 Aug 15 Aug 14 Aug 13 Aug 12
Windows 1 4 4 1 2 5 7 6 6 4 0 4 3 13 7 3 2 1 3 1 5 2 2 2 1 4 3 5 2 2 0 0 4 5 2 1 1 1 1 3 2 4 2 2 0 3
OS X 1 0 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 0 0 2 3 1 1 2 1 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1
Linux 2 4 0 0 1 3 1 5 3 0 0 1 1 3 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 5 2 1 0 8 4 0 0 1 3 1 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 1 0 2 0 2 0 4





This package attempts to recreate the functionality found in the well-loved language mode in Emacs. The extensibility of Sublime Text makes it an excellent platform upon which to attempt this.

This package may stand alone, however it was created to co-exist peacefully alone with the Emacs Pro Essential package. In that same vein, the keyboard shortcuts were designed around the vhdl-mode shortcuts in Emacs.

Initially, the package relied upon the TextMate syntax file by Brian Padalino (after conversion to the ST3 YAML format). However after working with this syntax definition, it became apparent that this syntax file was dated, had some issues with certain syntactical structures, and did not conform well to scope naming best practices. An effort was undertaken to rewrite the syntax file from the language reference and incorporate meaningful and fine grained lexical scopes. VHDL-2008 should be handled well.

Issues are tracked here on the project in GitHub. I will state up front that I cannot duplicate Emacs vhdl-mode completely (e.g. see the discussion on stutter typing) however if there is a particular omission or a feature that is desireable, please feel free to open an issue. I'm happy to talk about it. If that isn't possible, the plugin announcement on the Sublime Text forum is located here and I can glean issues there as well and add them.

Feature Set

  • Port copying from entity or component declarations.
  • Interface copy and pasting as entity, component, signals, direct entity instantiation, and testbench.
  • Subprogram copy and pasting as declaration, body, and call.
  • Proper stutter typing shortcuts for the assignment operators and commenting structures.
  • Code beautification supporting several parenthetical code styles natively (Kernigan & Ritchie, Allman, and Lisp)
  • Customizeable header template
  • Natural language shortcuts through use of snippets for commonly used structures.
  • Syntax file supporting highly granular scoping of lexical structures.
  • Sublime Text Goto symbol and definition support, both local and global.
  • Region comment/uncommenting

Related Packages

  • HDLProject by bootsiaz : It's the closest thing to Emacs vhdl-mode Speedbar that I know of. This clever implementation leverages symbolic links to make use of Sublime Text's Sidebar for hierarchical project display.

Future Design Goals

  • 'Smart' insertion of instantiation labels
  • Leverage good scoping for better behaviors in all features.


The VHDL Mode sublime-settings file contains fields that are used to fill in certain fields in the header template upon insertion. A base override may be created by selecting Preferences >> Package Settings >> VHDL Mode >> Settings. This will bring up the default settings file and a User variation on the settings. To customize the fields, simply copy and paste the defaults over to the User override file, and edit to taste.

These fields can also be set in the sublime-project file under "settings" for project specific behavior. To facilitate this, a project helper snippet was created to inject these settings when editing the project file. Simply select Project >> Edit Project from the menu, move the cursor past the "folders" line and type project. The project snippet also creates a couple of sample build methods that can be used for the project.

One particular setting meshes with both the header template and the on-save time field. The vhdl-modified-time-string setting is the string that the code looks for when catching the on-save event, and updating that field. This should only be altered if the header snippet has been modified. When the event triggers, the code searches for that string, and replaces that line with the string, plus the time information.

Code beautification should pay attention to the tab_size and translate_tabs_to_spaces settings that are part of the standard Sublime Text preferences. Please let me know if this causes any issues.

  • vhdl-user : String : Fills in the username portion of the header template.
  • vhdl-company : String : Fills in the company name portion of the header template.
  • vhdl-project-name : String : Fills in the project name portion of the header template.
  • vhdl-platform : String : Fills in the platform or part number portion of the header template.
  • vhdl-standard : String : Fills in the coding standard portion of the header template.
  • vhdl-modified-time-string : String : Represents the string that will be searched for when the file is saved. If this is found, that line is replaced with a string comprising of this pattern, plus the current time. This is also used in the header creation to make sure that header template insertion injects the correct string.
  • vhdl-use-copyright-block : Boolean : Setting this to true will make the header template insertion inject the copyright block. Setting this to false will make it such that this section is not used.
  • vhdl-copyright-block : String List : This list of strings will be joined by newlines and prepended by a newline (required due to the optional nature of this block – see the snippet field location) and is used when vhdl-use-copyright-block is set to true. This string will be searched for ${YEAR} and ${COMPANY} and replaced by the current year, and the vhdl-company string respectively. The string list is required since JSON does not allow multiline strings.
  • vhdl-use-revision-block : Boolean : Setting this to true will make the header template insertion inject the revision block. Setting this to false will make it such that this section is not used.
  • vhdl-revision-block : String List : This list of strings will be joined by newlines and prepended by a newline. It is used when vhdl-use-revision-block is set to true. This string does not have any field substitutions.


Key Mappings

As mentioned, the goal here was to be familiar with Emacs vhdl-mode users. However I am well aware that I'm also in a Windows environment, and the commonly used C-c prefix for code mode commands in Emacs will conflict with the standard Windows copy command. Sublime Text 3 seems to use M-k as an extension keymap and this seemed a suitable replacement (in the Windows environment the Meta key is Alt). The key mappings are also context selected, so should not trigger on anything that is not a source.vhdl file.

Another note, these are sequence keystrokes. For example to copy a port interface from an entity, move the point into the structure (anywhere should be fine) and hit Alt-k then p then w. These should not be chorded.

Port Interface Copy/Paste Functions

It may help to remember p for port, then w for write (to buffer). The other mnemonics are fairly straightforward.

  • Copy Ports : M-k p w
  • Paste as Signals : M-k p s
  • Paste as Component: M-k p c
  • Paste as Entity: M-k p e
  • Paste as (Direct Entity) Instance: M-k p i
  • Paste as Testbench: M-k p t – Opens a new view and fills out boilerplate material with the interface as the unit under test.

The following animated GIF demonstrates a portion of the port copying feature.

Port Copying Demonstration

Subprogram Interface Copy/Paste Functions

It may help to remember s for subprogram, then w for write (to buffer). Much like the port version of this feature, the mnemonics are straightforward.

  • Copy Subprogram : M-k s w
  • Paste as Declaration : M-k s d
  • Paste as Body : M-k s b
  • Paste as Call : M-k s c


It may help to remember 'c' for code, then 'c' for comment, 'b' for beautify, etc.

  • Toggle Comment Region : M-k c c
  • Beautify Entire Buffer : M-k c b


Largely templating is handled by the snippet system, however the header is a special feature as it inserts various fields automatically. Remember 't' for template and 'h' for header.

  • Insert Header : M-k t h


  • Package Version : M-k v
  • Scope at Point : M-k S

Stutter Typing

In Emacs vhdl-mode, double striking some keys will insert some syntactical punctuation elements. Unfortunately, I cannot duplicate the entire Emacs vhdl-mode stutter typing repetoire since I do not have access to the keystream directly. What I have been able to do is use keybindings and in one case a keybinding and macro to replicate the behavior. I'll list the implemented replacements and then a note on the ones I cannot and why I cannot replicate these. The symbols below will have a space on either side of them which is difficult to see in this HTML documentation.

  • ;; : Produces :
  • ;;; : Produces := (See notes below)
  • .. : Produces =>
  • ,, : Produces <=
  • --- : Produces a comment line extending to column 80 starting where the cursor is, and accounting for tabs. This one pays attention to the tab_size Preference if you use tabs.
  • --= : Produces a three-sided comment box extending to column 80 starting whree the cursor is, and accounting for tabs. (See notes.)

The following are the stutter typing replacements I cannot do.

  • [, [[, ], ]] : These cannot be duplicated properly. The problem is that the Sublime API does not have direct access to the keystream. The only way to replicate this (as I was able to with ;;;) is to create a keybind that checks the preceding text and if it is the replaced text, execute a macro that deletes and replaces the text with the new text. However if I replaced [ with ( and then looked for a preceding paren for [[ then one would never be able to properly type nested parenthesis.
  • '' : This interferes with the auto-completion feature in Sublime Text so I have opted to not implement it.
  • ;;; : I'd like to give fair warning that this is not implemented exactly like Emacs does it. How this works is that ;; creates :. I have also keybound ; to check for the preceding text and if it is : then it will execute a macro that deletes and replaces with :=. The side effect of this is that if the cursor is placed at a point in the text where : is just behind the point, this macro will ALSO execute then. I think this is likely a fairly rare event and I have no other way to create this behavior, so I opted for this workaround.
  • ---- : Again I cannot duplicate this by checking the prior text because that would create weird issues if someone was just trying to make a custom length comment dash line. I created the --= as a replacement for the comment box.
  • == : Honestly I could create this one however it's kind of pointless. The == is not a VHDL operator and I'm not honestly certain why it's in Emacs vhdl-mode.


Most snippets will execute from the keyword associated with them (i.e. 'entity' will fill out the beginning and ending structures and leave the cursor in the middle.) Each of these snippet words require hitting Tab afterwards to execute. This is just a list of the less obvious shortcuts. ST3 will show snippets with completion off the Tools >> Snippets menu for further documentation.

  • spro : Synchronous Process
  • cpro : Combinatorial Process
  • header : Produces a header structure at the point (not to be confused by the insert header command which actually puts this at the top of the file.)
  • funcd : Produces a function specification/declaration
  • funcb : Produces a function with body.
  • procd : Produces a procedure specification/declaration
  • procb : Produces a procedure with body.
  • genmap : Produces a generic map association list, differentiated from a generic interface list.
  • portmap : Produces a port map association list, differentiated from a port interface list.
  • project : Active while editing a Sublime Text project file. Fills in local copies of the setting keys and instantiates a couple of example build systems.
  • And others… see the Snippets directory or the Tools >> Snippets menu for complete list.

Miscellaneous Features

  • The insert header command uses a few fields from the package settings directory. For author and company and so forth please modify this file. The header text may be adjusted to taste. There are comments on the fields that the command will look for.
  • The on-save event is trapped and will do a scan of the file and by default look for -- Last update : in a VHDL file. If it finds this structure it will update the time and date on that line automatically. This pattern is configured through settings.
  • Most commands (save for snippets) will leave a trace in the ST3 console which may be useful for debugging. Any package message specific to this package will start with 'vhdl-mode:'

Known Issues and Design Commentary

  • This is a work in progress however I've been eating my own dog food and it works fairly satisfactorily for me currently. I've thrown several code styles and files from other authors at it and tried to iron out the stranger bugs. However there are a lot of coding styles and I do not promise that the beautifier will work with every one of them. If there is an issue with a particular structure, I'm happy to get a sample and see if I can make it work.
  • VHDL-2008 support is patchy currently. All the reserved words are handled, however some lexical constructs will either beautify oddly or be scoped oddly. Again, I'm happy to get some code samples to see it used in real life (largely not used at my place of work) and see if I can handle it.
  • The TextMate VHDL syntax supported non-matching identifiers in several locations. In order to get greater scope granularity, I had to sacrifice that feature in a few constructs because match captures do not persist through syntax scope set commands. More work can be done in identifying illegal identifiers in various locations however.
  • The syntax file was written with reference to the language definition in Designer's Guide to VHDL, 3rd Edition by Peter Ashenden. The language definition reference is in Appendix B, and library reference taken from Appendix A. Knowing how the language is structured may help understanding the syntax file and why it's done the way it is.
  • Designed to work with Sublime Text 3. It is unlikely to work with Sublime Text 2 (that is to say, I would be delighted if it did, however I have never used ST2 nor tested against it so your mileage may vary.)
  • Interface instantiation is still somewhat 'dumb' in that it uses a dummy label for instantiation. Once outlining is in place, it would be nice for the label to update to an unique identfier.
  • I wrote my own comment routine for the region. This may not work the same way as ST3's own comment/uncommenter. I tried to keep the vhdl-mode behavior where it will region indent everything at the same column.
  • I have not tested this on Linux or Mac so I cannot tell how well it may work, or not, as the case may be. I would love to find out if there are any issues and happy to attempt to resolve them.
  • I did not create a snippet for everything under the sun. In vhdl-mode, the templates were one of my least used features. Generally I like the templates to cover large scale things that save a lot of typing. That is to say, there's no real need in my mind for every single keyword to have its own snippet. That being said, other packages have some of those things, and Sublime Text 3's snippet creation capability is simple, easy-to-use, and quite customizable. If anyone creates one they believe flows naturally from regular coding I'd be happy to evaluate it and include it with attribution.
  • There's no particularly graceful way to handle vhdl-mode's prompting for fields, for example, when creating an entity. Thus, some of these behaviors were broken up into several snippets. Typing entity <Tab> will form the starting and stopping entity structure, then place the cursor in the middle. Typing port <Tab> at this point will start a port interface list. In this way the flavor of the templating is retained but within a ST3 model. If I can find a way to handle a full prompt construction, I will try to implement it, but for now it's limited to snippet support.


This package is offered with no warranty and no liability. It's free to use and distribute with any code, however I would appreciate attribution for my work if forking, modifying, or incorporating. Happy to work with other Sublime Text package authors as well.

MIT License

Copyright © 2017 Mark Norton

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.