IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK Help


Custom languages can use the com.intellij.lang.documentationProvider extension point (EP) to show documentation for functions, methods, classes, or other constructs right inside the IDE. Accessing the documentation is done by calling View | Quick Documentation or hovering over a symbol, which will open a popup to show type information, parameters, usage descriptions, or examples. The source of the documentation contents can vary. Often it is extracted from comments (e.g. JavaDoc comments) in the source code, but it’s also possible to access external resources like web pages.

In addition to showing the documentation, the getQuickNavigateInfo() method returns the text to be displayed when the user hovers over an element with Ctrl/ Cmd pressed.

Custom actions can also be added to documentation inlays and documentation popups via DocumentationActionProvider registered in the com.intellij.documentationActionProvider extension point.


Custom language developers usually extend from AbstractDocumentationProvider instead of implementing the DocumentationProvider interface. This implementation needs to be registered as com.intellij.lang.documentationProvider in the plugin.xml.

The main work is done in generateDoc(), which has two PSI element arguments: the target element for which the documentation is requested and the original element under the cursor. If IntelliJ Platform's choice of target element isn't suitable for your language, you can override getCustomDocumentationElement() and provide the correct element.

How the documentation for the target element is created is up to the custom language developer. A common choice is to extract and format documentation comments. To format the documentation contents, you should use DocumentationMarkup to achieve a consistent output.

Once these steps are completed, the following additional features can be implemented:

  • Implement getQuickNavigateInfo() to provide the text that should be displayed when an element is hovered over with Ctrl/ Cmd pressed.

  • Implement generateHoverDoc() to show different contents on mouse hover.

  • Implement getDocumentationElementForLookupItem() to return a suitable PSI element for the given lookup element when View | Quick Documentation is called on an element of the autocompletion popup.

  • Implement getUrlFor() and ExternalDocumentationProvider to fetch documentation for elements from online resources.


The custom language tutorial contains a step-by-step guide for the DocumentationProvider of the Simple language. In addition, several implementations of other languages exist in the IntelliJ Platform code, for instance:

Last modified: 23 June 2021