Provided by: universal-ctags_0+git20181215-2_amd64 bug


       ctags-universal - Universal-ctags parser definition language


       ctags-universal [options] [file(s)]
       etags [options] [file(s)]


       Exuberant-ctags,  the  ancestor  of  Universal-ctags, has provided the way to define a new
       parser from command line.  Universal-ctags extends and refines this feature. optlib parser
       is  the  name  for  such parser in Universal-ctags. "opt" intents a parser is defined with
       combination of command line options. "lib" intents an  optlib  parser  can  be  more  than
       ad-hoc personal configuration.

       This  man  page is for people who wants to define an optlib parser. The reader should read
       ctags(1) of Universal-ctags first. Following options are for defining (or  customizing)  a

       · --langdef=

       · --kinddef-<LANG>=

       · --map-<LANG>=

       · --regex-<LANG>=

       Following options are for controlling loading parser definition:

       · --optlib-dir=[+]directory

       · --options=file|directory

       · --options-maybe=pathname

       The  design of options and notations for defining a parser in Exuberant-ctags may focus on
       reducing the number of typing by user.  Reducing the number of  typing  is  important  for
       users who want to define (or customize) a parser quickly.

       On  the other hand, the design in Universal-ctags focuses on maintainability. The notation
       of Universal-ctags is redundant than that of Exuberant-ctags; the  newly  introduced  kind
       should  be  declared  explicitly,  (long)  names  are  approved  than  single letter flags
       specifying kinds, and naming rules are stricter.

       This man page explains only stable options and  flags.   Universal-ctags  also  introduces
       experimental  options  and  flags  which  have names starting with _. For documentation on
       these options and flags, visit Universal-ctags web site at

   Storing a parser definition to a file
       Though it is possible to define a parser from command line, you don't  want  to  type  the
       same  command line each time when you need the parser.  You can store options for defining
       a parser into a file.

       ctags-universal loads files (preload files) listed  in  "FILES"  section  of  ctags(1)  at
       program starting up. You can put your parser definition needed usually to the files.

       --options=pathname,   --options-maybe=pathname,   and  --optlib-dir=[+]directory  are  for
       loading optlib files you need  occasionally.  See  "COMMAND  LINE  INTERFACE"  section  of
       ctags(1) for these options.

       As  explained  in  FILES section of ctags(1), options for defining a parser listed line by
       line in an optlib file. Prefixed white spaces are ignored. A line  starting  with  '#'  is
       treated as a comment.  Escaping shell meta character is not needed.

       Use  ".ctags"  as  file  extension  for optlib file. You can define multiple parsers in an
       optlib file but it is better to make a file for each parser definition.

       --_echo=msg and --_force-quit=[num] options are for debugging optlib parser.

   Overview for defining a parser
       1. Design the parser

          You need know both the target language and the ctags' concepts (definition,  reference,
          kind,  role,  field,  extra).  About the concepts, ctags(1) of Universal-ctags may help

       2. Give a name to the parser

          Use --langdef=name option. NAME is referred as <LANG> in the later steps.

       3. Give a file pattern or file extension for activating the parser

          Use --map-<LANG>=[+|-]extension|pattern.

       4. Define kinds

          Use --kinddef-<LANG>=letter,name,description option.  Universal-ctags  introduces  this
          option.   Exuberant-ctags doesn't have. In Exuberant-ctags, a kind is defined as a side
          effect of specifying --regex-<LANG>= option. So user doesn't have a chance to recognize
          how important the definition of kind.

       5. Define patterns

          Use --regex-<LANG>=/regexp/replacement/[kind-spec/][flags] option.

          As      KIND-SPEC,      you      can      use      the      letter     defined     with
          --kinddef-<LANG>=letter,name,description option.


       This   is   the   definition   (pod.ctags)   used   in   ctags   for   parsing   pod    (‐ file.



          --regex-pod=/^=head1[ \t]+(.+)/\1/c/
          --regex-pod=/^=head2[ \t]+(.+)/\1/s/
          --regex-pod=/^=head3[ \t]+(.+)/\1/S/
          --regex-pod=/^=head4[ \t]+(.+)/\1/t/


              Defines  a  new user-defined language, name, to be parsed with regular expressions.
              Once defined, name may be used in other options taking language names.

              The names of built-in parsers are capitalized. When  ctags-universal  evaluates  an
              option  in  a command line, and chooses a parser, ctags-universal uses the names of
              parsers in a  case-insensitive  way.  Therefore,  giving  a  name  started  from  a
              lowercase character doesn't help you to avoid the parser name confliction. However,
              in a tags file, ctags-universal prints parser names in  a  case-sensitive  way;  it
              prints  a  parser  name as specified in --langdef= option.  Therefore, we recommend
              you to give a name started from  a  lowercase  character  to  your  private  optlib
              parser. With this convention, people can know where a tag entry in a tag file comes
              from a built-in parser or a private optlib parser.

              Lists the flags that can be used in --regex-<LANG> option.

              Define a kind for <LANG>.  Be not confused this with --kinds-<LANG>.

              letter must be an alphabetical character ('[0-9a-zA-EG-Z]') other than "F". "F" has
              been reserved for representing a file since Exuberant-ctags.

              name  also  must  come  from  alphabetical characters ('[0-9a-zA-Z]+').  Do not use
              "file" as name. It has been reserved for representing a file since Exuberant-ctags.

              description comes from any printable ASCII characters. The exception is "{" and "".
              "{" is reserved for adding flags this option in the future. So put "" before "{" to
              include "{" to a description. To include "" itself to a description, put ""  before

              Both letter, name and their combination must be unique in a <LANG>.

              This option is newly introduced in Universal-ctags.  This option reduces the typing
              defining a regex pattern with --regex-<LANG>=, and keeps the  consistency  of  kind
              definitions in a language.

              The  letter  can  be  used  as  an  argument for --kinds-<LANG> option to enable or
              disable the kind. Unless K field is enabled, the letter is used  as  value  in  the
              "kind" extension field in tags output.

              The  name surrounded by braces can be used as an argument for --kind-<LANG> option.
              If K field is enabled, the name is used as value in the "kind" extension  field  in
              tags output.

              The description and letter are listed in --list-kinds output. All three elements of
              kind-spec  are  listed  in  --list-kinds-full  output.  Don't  use  braces  in  the
              description. They will be used meta characters in the future.

              The  /regexp/replacement/  pair  defines  a regular expression replacement pattern,
              similar in style to sed substitution commands, with which  to  generate  tags  from
              source  files  mapped  to  the  named language, <LANG>, (case-insensitive; either a
              built-in or user-defined language). The  regular  expression,  regexp,  defines  an
              extended  regular  expression  (roughly  that  used  by egrep(1)), which is used to
              locate a single source line containing a tag and may specify tab  characters  using
              t.  When  a matching line is found, a tag will be generated for the name defined by
              replacement, which generally will contain the special back-references 1  through  9
              to  refer  to  matching  sub-expression  groups  within  regexp.  The '/' separator
              characters shown in the parameter to the option can actually  be  replaced  by  any
              character.  Note that whichever separator character is used will have to be escaped
              with a backslash ('') character wherever it is used in the parameter  as  something
              other  than  a separator. The regular expression defined by this option is added to
              the current list of regular expressions  for  the  specified  language  unless  the
              parameter is omitted, in which case the current list is cleared.

              Unless  modified  by  flags,  regexp  is  interpreted  as  a Posix extended regular
              expression. The replacement should expand for all matching  lines  to  a  non-empty
              string  of  characters,  or a warning message will be reported unless {placeholder}
              regex flag is specified. An optional kind specifier for tags  matching  regexp  may
              follow replacement, which will determine what kind of tag is reported in the "kind"
              extension field (see ctags-tags(5)).

              kind-spec has two forms: letter only form and full form.  The letter  form  assumes
              using   --regex-<LANG>  option  with  --kinddef-<LANG>  option.  The  kind-spec  in
              --regex-<LANG> option just refers a letter defined with --kinddef-<LANG>. This form
              is recommended in Universal-ctags.

              The full form of kind-spec is in the form of a single letter, a comma, a name (only
              out of alphabetical characters), a comma, a description.  See  the  description  of
              --kinddef-<LANG>=letter,name,description option about how the elements are used.

              Either  the  kind  name and/or the description can be omitted.  However, unless the
              letter is not defined with --kinddef-<LANG> option, omitting is not recommended  in
              in   Universal-ctags.   The  omitting  form  is  supported  only  for  keeping  the
              compatibility with Exuberant-ctags. Supporting the omitting form  will  be  removed
              from  Universal-ctags  in  the  future.   If  kind-spec  is omitted, it defaults to

              About flag, see "Flags for --regex-<LANG> option".

              For more information on the regular expressions used by ctags-universal, see either
              the  regex(5,7)  man  page,  or  the  GNU  info documentation for regex (e.g. "info

              Print msg to the standard error stream.  This is helpful to understand (and  debug)
              optlib loading feature of Universal-ctags.

              Exits  immediately  when  this option is processed.  If num is used as exit status.
              The  default  is  0.   This  is  helpful  to  debug  optlib  loading   feature   of


       You  can  specify  more  than  one  flag  at  the  end  of  --regex-<LANG>  to control how
       Universal-ctags uses the pattern.

       Exuberant-ctags uses a letter to represent a flag. In Universal-ctags, a  name  surrounded
       by  braces  (name  form)  can  be  used  in addition to letter. The name form makes a user
       reading an optlib file easier. The most of all flags newly added in Universal-ctags  don't
       have   the  letter  representation.  All  of  them  have  only  the  name  representation.
       --list-regex-flags lists all the flags.

       basic (letter form b)
              The pattern is interpreted as a Posix basic regular expression.

       exclusive (letter form x)
              Skip testing the other patterns if a line is  matched  to  this  pattern.  This  is
              useful to avoid using CPU to parse line comments.

       extend (letter form e)
              The pattern is interpreted as a Posix extended regular expression (default).

       icase (letter form i)
              The regular expression is to be applied in a case-insensitive manner.

              Don't  emit  a  tag captured with a regex pattern.  The replacement can be an empty
              string.  See the following description of scope=... flag about how this is useful.

          Specify what to do with the internal scope stack.

          A parser programmed with --regex-<LANG> has a stack (scope stack) internally.  You  can
          use  it  for  tracking  scope  information.  The scope=... flag is for manipulating and
          utilizing the scope stack.

          If {scope=push} is specified, a tag captured  with  --regex-<LANG>  is  pushed  to  the
          stack. {scope=push} implies {scope=ref}.

          You  can  fill the scope field of captured tag with {scope=ref}. If {scope=ref} flag is
          given,  ctags-universal  attaches  the  tag  at  the  top  to  the  tag  captured  with
          --regex-<LANG> as the value for the scope: field.

          ctags-universal  pops  the  tag  at  the  top  of  the  stack  when --regex-<LANG> with
          {scope=pop} is matched to the input line.

          Specifying {scope=clear} removes all the tags in  the  scope.   Specifying  {scope=set}
          removes  all  the  tags  in the scope, and then pushes the captured tag as {scope=push}

          In some cases, you may want to use --regex-<LANG> only for its side effects:  using  it
          only  to  manipulate  the  stack  but  not  for  capturing  a tag. In such a case, make
          replacement component of --regex-<LANG> option empty while specifying {placeholder}  as
          a  regex  flag.  For example, a non-named tag can be put on the stack by giving a regex
          flag {scope=push}{placeholder}.

          You may wonder what happens if a regex pattern with {scope=ref} flag matches  an  input
          line  but  the  stack  is empty, or a non-named tag is at the top. If the regex pattern
          contains a {scope=ref} flag and the stack is empty, the {scope=ref} flag is ignored and
          nothing is attached to the scope: field.

          If  the  top of the stack contains an unnamed tag, ctags-universal searches deeper into
          the stack to find the top-most named tag. If it reaches the bottom of the stack without
          finding  a  named  tag,  the {scope=ref} flag is ignored and nothing is attached to the
          scope: field.

          When a named tag on the stack is popped or cleared as the  side  effect  of  a  pattern
          matching,  ctags-universal  attaches  the line number of the match to the end: field of
          the named tag.

          ctags-universal clears all of the tags on the stack when it  reaches  the  end  of  the
          input  source  file.  The  line  number of the end is attached to the end: field of the
          cleared tags.


       Four things, an input source file, an optlib file, a  command  line  invoking  ctags,  and
       output makes an example.

   Using scope regex flags
       Let's think about writing a parser for a very small subset of the Ruby language.

       input source file ("input.srb"):

          class Example
            def methodA
                  puts "in class_method"
            def methodB
                  puts "in class_method"

       The  parser  for  the  input  should  capture  "Example"  with  class kind, "methodA", and
       "methodB" with method kind. "methodA" and "methodB" should have "Example" as their  scope.
       end: fields of each tag should have proper values.

       optlib file ("sub-ruby.ctags"):

          --regex-subRuby=/^class[ \t]+([a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9]+)/\1/c/{scope=push}
          --regex-subRuby=/^[ \t]+def[ \t]+([a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9_]+)/\1/m/{scope=push}
          --regex-subRuby=/^[ \t]+end///{scope=pop}{placeholder}

       command line and output:

          $ ctags  --quiet --options=NONE --fields=+eK \
          --options=./sub-ruby.ctags -o - input.srb
          Example input.srb       /^class Example$/;"     class   end:8
          methodA input.srb       /^  def methodA$/;"     method  class:Example   end:4
          methodB input.srb       /^  def methodB$/;"     method  class:Example   end:7


       The official Universal-ctags web site at:

       ctags(1), regex(5,7), egrep(1)


       Universal-ctags project (This man page partially derived from ctags(1) of

       Darren Hiebert <>