Shader Language Server (LS)

Repo Link:

April 30th, 2023. I have created my first language server that is actually useful to someone. I tried a language server a while back, but it was just an example server, so it’s not very useful, and it’s only for educational purposes.

The target language I chose to write is the ShaderLab language. ShaderLab is used in Unity Engine, so you can write custom shaders to stylize your game. Unlike regular programming languages, ShaderLab is much simpler to analyze, so the language server can respond to the client side.

❓ Why chose C# as the implementaion language?

Since Unity Engine’s most popular scripting language is C#, I reckon choosing C# is the perfect match.

💀 C# Language Server Protocal Hell

I already had a bad feeling when writing a language server in C# before starting it since I never had a good impression of the author Omnisharp’s plugins. I’ve tried their official C# plugins on the VSCode Marketplace, but to be honest, I wouldn’t say I like it. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s slow
  2. Constant breaking changes. Next update nothing works!
  3. Maintainers are not very active (but the community is friendly though)

Nevertheless, I insist on giving csharp-language-server-protocol a shot since there are no other reasonable alternatives. After digging it for a few days, here are issues I am facing:

  1. Example from the official repository is either broken or incomplete (kinda useless)
  2. Obsolete or lack of documentation
  3. They don’t really care about other editors. (Many editor compatible issues and PRs are left opened)

Fortunately, I found the thousand language server created by @gulbanana and HlslTools created by @tgjones. Therefore, I am able to accomplish this project by seeing their implementations! 😅😇

P.S. It took me very long to figure things out!!! 💀

⚙️ Plug-in ShaderlabVS

Another challenge is the engine of the language server. What parses the text document and gives reasonable responses to the client? Then I found a project that already does that for me – ShaderlabVS. It’s an ideal solution since the implementation are also in C#. Thanks to the author @wudixiaop for this amazing project! ❤️

💥 Create a language server client

Okay, now we have a language server up and running, but there is no way to test it! I’m an Emacs user, so I’ve decided to create an Emacs package – lsp-shader that uses lsp-mode as the base and use it as my language server’s client. I’ve already created several language server’s clients in Emacs Lisp, so creating another isn’t too difficult. 😁

📦 Publish on NuGet

I have no experience publishing packages to NuGet, but it wasn’t hard after watching a couple of tutorials on YouTube. I use the csharp-language-server created by @razzmatazz as my reference since this is the only project I know with a similar structure I want.

In closing, you only need two step to publish package on NuGet. 😋

  1. Pack the package from Visual Studio
  2. Upload to NuGet site

🎖️ Achievement