IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK Help

Parameter Info

Custom languages can use ParameterInfoHandler registered in com.intellij.codeInsight.parameterInfo extension point (EP) to show information about parameters in method and function calls. This is a convenient way to display type signatures directly as a popup in the editor without having to consult the documentation. If it is available, the IDE can show this popup automatically after a short delay, or it can be invoked explicitly via View | Parameter Info.

Parameter info is dynamic and can update the displayed information when the caret is moved or additional code is typed. This allows for highlighting entries or marking the current parameter at the caret position. Therefore, the interface of the ParameterInfoHandler EP consists of methods for initially collecting the required information to display parameter information at the caret position as well as methods to update what should be displayed during edits.


Language authors implement ParameterInfoHandler which takes two type parameters: ParameterOwner and ParameterType. For the explanations that follow, we assume that ParameterOwner is a PSI element that represents a function call in a language, and ParameterType represents (possibly several) function definitions.

Additionally, ParameterInfoHandler uses several context types that are mutable and used to adjust what and how parameter information is displayed. These contexts are, e.g., CreateParameterInfoContext, UpdateParameterInfoContext and ParameterInfoUIContext and they all derive from ParameterInfoContext.

Initial Phase

The initial phase describes what happens when no parameter info is currently displayed and it is invoked either automatically or by the user.

  1. The findElementForParameterInfo() method is called. When overriding this method, language authors use the provided CreateParameterInfoContext to access, e.g., the file and offset of the current editor. The goal is to identify the ParameterOwner i.e. a function call at the current offset if it exists. It is advised to extract the actual search for the function call into a separate method since it can be re-used later. The findElementForParameterInfo() implementation should find all matching function definitions and store them using setItemsToShow() of the context parameter.

  2. If the returned function call element is valid, the showParameterInfo() method is invoked. Implementations of this method usually just call showHint() of the CreateParameterInfoContext providing the offset at which the popup should appear.

  3. For each item to show from step 1, the updateUI() method is called. No heavy work is allowed in this method since it runs on the UI thread and it should only update the UI representation using, e.g., setUIComponentEnabled() or setupUIComponentPresentation() of the provided ParameterInfoUIContext.

  4. After that the following methods are called which will be explained in the next phase: findElementForUpdatingParameterInfo(), updateParameterInfo(), updateUI().

Update Phase

When a parameter info popup is displayed and the user types something or moves the caret, the displayed information is updated. This allows for, e.g., highlighting a function usage with different arguments or simply moving the parameter info box closer to the caret. Therefore, when the user moves the caret or types something, the following happens:

  1. The syncUpdateOnCaretMove() method is called.

  2. The findElementForUpdatingParameterInfo() method is called and it should find the correct function call (ParameterOwner) for the changed caret position. Implementations return null if an appropriate element could not be found or if it is different from getParameterOwner() of the provided UpdateParameterInfoContext. If null is returned, the dispose() method is called.

  3. The processFoundElementForUpdatingParameterInfo() method is called which allows for additional adjustments of the UpdateParameterInfoContext. By default, this method does nothing and it's usually not necessary to implement it.

  4. The updateParameterInfo() is called. Many implementations only invoke setParameterOwner() of the UpdateParameterInfoContext here.

  5. The updateUI() method is called for each item in the getItemsToShow() array of the context which were collected in the initial phase.

Further Tips

Language authors can implement ParameterInfoHandlerWithTabActionSupport to extend the parameter info functionality with the ability to jump between parameter positions by pressing the tab key. For recurring tasks like finding the index of the current parameter in a function call, ParameterInfoUtils provides a collection of useful functions.

It is further helpful to inspect all the context-interfaces that extend from ParameterInfoContext and can be found in the com.intellij.lang.parameterInfo package as they provide insight into what data of the parameter info can be accessed and changed in the different stages.

Methods of the ParameterInfoHandler that have a default implementation can usually be ignored. syncUpdateOnCaretMove() and supportsOverloadSwitching() are used internally by the IntelliJ Platform and are not required to be implemented by plugins. The dispose() method is called when the currently displayed parameter info is invalidated and destroyed. Only isWhitespaceSensitive() which is used in the getCurrentOffset() method of ParameterInfoControllerBase should be implemented when whitespace matters in a language.

Note that parameter info works during indexing (using incomplete indices) when the implementations also extend DumbAware. It is recommended to adapt tests for dumb-mode since the results might be surprising, and more changes to the handler might be required for better results.

Finally, language authors should be aware of the global CodeInsightSettings#SHOW_FULL_SIGNATURES_IN_PARAMETER_INFO setting that can be used to present results that are consistent with the default IDE behavior. For Java, for instance, the IDE shows the full signature of the method/function on parameter info if this setting is enabled.


Existing, moderately complex, implementations of ParameterInfoHandler in the IntelliJ Platform that can serve as a reference are:

Implementations of 3rd party plugins can be discovered using the IntelliJ Platform Explorer. Two examples are:

Last modified: 21 March 2022