I am a big fan of beautiful code, not only in terms of quality of programming but also formatting the code nicely so that it is easy on eyes.

If you are using a full-blown IDE, they come with their own formatting facility, but if you are using a multipurpose editor such as Notepad++, then you may have to use a plugin to format your code. There are many 3rd party programs that can be used with Notepad++ that will help you format your source code without going through a lot of effort.

I use different tools for different languages. I use PerlTidy for formatting my Perl code, and AStyle for certain other languages. Here are the steps taken to add AStyle to Notepad++. Please check the AStyle website for further information on AStyle and its options.

First you need to make sure you have NppExec plugin added to your Notepad++ by going to Plugin menu.

NppExec Menu

Download AStyle. The zip archive includes all the source and an  executable. You can simple copy the executable to a suitable location (For this demo, I am copying it to H:\tools\AStyle.exe. Or you can recompile from the source.

Go to NppExec under Plugin menu and click on Execute or hit F6. You will get the Execute dialogue box.

Execute Dialogue Box

As it is a new command, in the dropdown box, <temporary script> is selected. Type in the following commands in the window:

h:\tools\AStyle --style=allman "$(FULL_CURRENT_PATH)"

The first line saves the file. If you do not save first, then it might format the last saved version of your file. The 2nd command formats the code and saves the file. The view doesn’t get refreshed, so we need to reload the file from disk, and npp_open does that in the above. Note that I am using AStyle with –style=allman flag which uses broken brackets.

Hit the save button and it will ask you for a name, just type an appropriate name and hit OK to run.

Execute AStyle

You could stop right there and every time you need to run the command, just go to Plugins -> NppExec -> Execute… But let’s go one step further.

Under Plugins, go to NppExec and click on Advanced Options.

NppExec Advanced Options

Select “Run AStyle” from the Associated Script drop down menu and then hit the “Add/Modify” button. Make sure the “Place to the Macros Submenu” is ticked.

This will add a new option in Macro Menu.

Notepad++ Macro Menu

That is it. Hope you have found this short tutorial useful.


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