Navigating the PSI
There are three main ways to navigate the PSI: top-down, bottom-up, and references. In the first scenario, you have a PSI file or another higher-level element (for example, a method). You need to find all elements that match a specified condition (for example, all variable declarations). In the second scenario, you have a specific point in the PSI tree (for example, the element at caret) and need to find out something about its context (for example, the element in which it has been declared). Finally, references allow you to navigate from the usages of an element (e.g., a method call) to the declaration (the method being called) and back. References are described in a separate topic.
The most common way to perform top-down navigation is to use a Visitor. To use a visitor, you create a class (usually an anonymous inner class) that extends the base visitor class, overrides the methods that handle the elements you're interested in, and passes the visitor instance to
The base classes for visitors are language-specific. For example, if you need to process elements in a Java file, you extend
JavaRecursiveElementVisitor and override the methods corresponding to the Java element types you're interested in.
The following snippet shows the use of a visitor to find all Java local variable declarations:
In many cases, you can also use more specific APIs for top-down navigation. For example, if you need to get a list of all methods in a Java class, you can use a visitor, but a much easier way to do that is calling
PsiTreeUtil contains a number of general-purpose, language-independent functions for PSI tree navigation, some of which (for example,
findChildrenOfType()) perform top-down navigation.
The starting point for bottom-up navigation is either a specific element in the PSI tree (for example, the result of resolving a reference) or an offset. If you have an offset, you can find the corresponding PSI element by calling
PsiFile.findElementAt(). This method returns the element at the lowest level of the tree (for example, an identifier), and you need to navigate the tree up if you want to determine the broader context.
In most cases, bottom-up navigation is performed by calling
PsiTreeUtil.getParentOfType(). This method goes up the tree until it finds the element of the type you've specified. For example, to find the containing method, you call
In some cases, you can also use specific navigation methods. For example, to find the class where a method is contained, you call
The following snippet shows how these calls can be used together:
To see how the navigation works in practice, please refer to the code sample.