IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK Help

Contributing to the IntelliJ Platform SDK

This document describes the writing style used in authoring open-source IntelliJ Platform SDK documentation. Before you begin, please read this page thoroughly, as well as the Code of Conduct and License documents. For information about contributing to the IntelliJ Platform itself, please visit Contributing to the IntelliJ Platform.

First and foremost, we should keep in mind our audience and their objectives: Someone reading technical content is usually looking to answer a specific question. That question might be broad or narrowly-focused, but either way, our goal is to provide answers without distraction.

The style of the Intellij Platform SDK documentation is captured by using a markup language named Markdown.

Documentation Markup

The documentation files themselves are Markdown files (*.md) that get automatically converted to HTML when the site is built.

Page Format

Each Markdown file must contain a header defining its title:

[//]: # (title: Contributing to the IntelliJ Platform SDK) Lorem ipsum...

Redirects can be specified in the Table of Contents.

Content Style


Consistent terminology helps the reader grasp new concepts more quickly:

  • The open-source code in the GitHub repository intellij-community is known as the IntelliJ Platform. Use the full phrase in the SDK documentation.

  • IDEs based on the IntelliJ Platform are described as IntelliJ Platform-based IDEs. Once that term is used on a page, authors may use IDEs.

  • When referring to JetBrains products always use the full name such as IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Edition. However, only use product names when extensibility or functionality is particular to a product.

Text Format Conventions

Consistent text styles are used to standardize references and keywords:

  • Menu paths are formatted as bold with pipe characters separating each level: **Settings/Preferences \| Editor** (Settings/Preferences | Editor) Menu paths to settings always start with "Settings/Preferences" to cover all platforms.

  • Non-code keywords and quotations, or the names of non-code files, are formatted as italic style: _UI Theme_ (UI Theme ), _README.md_ ( .) Examples of this file type include LICENSE.txt and

  • Code keywords, or the names of files containing source code, are formatted as code style: `interface` (interface ), `plugin.xml` (plugin.xml ), `AnAction` (AnAction) Examples of this file type include build.gradle, or theme_basics.theme.json.

  • File formats are shown as all capital letters: PNG and XML.

  • Filename extensions are not capitalized when part of a full filename, path, or URL: filename.ext.

  • Represent keyboard shortcuts with HTML elements: press <kbd>Alt</kbd>+<kbd>Insert</kbd> becomes "press Alt + Insert"

  • See Guidelines for Highlighting Syntax for more best practices for representing code fragments.

  • See Links to IntelliJ Platform Source for more details about representing names of source files in links.

Links are handled as standard Markdown links and can be anchored to external sites, pages within the sites, or headings in the sites. When a Markdown header is converted to an HTML header, it is assigned an ID so that it can be linked. For example, ## Introduction gets the ID of introduction, and can be linked either in the same page or cross-page as described below.

General Markdown links have the default Markdown link style:

  • [Gradle]( (Gradle) links to an external site, such as companies, articles, etc.

  • Linking to pages within the SDK documentation:
    • [SDK doc page in current directory]() links to an SDK doc page in the same directory as the current page. Note that the extension is .md, NOT .html.

    • [SDK page in another folder]( links to a page in another folder. Note the URL is navigating from the project root. This format works even if the site is hosted in a sub-folder. Relative links also work (../Folder2/ ).

  • Linking to specific sections on pages in the SDK documentation. The anchor name will be all lower case, and spaces are replaced with -, e.g. ## Page setup becomes #page-setup. Once the anchor (#) character of the link is entered, the IDE code completion feature shows the available sections.
    • [Link to a section on the current page](#another-section) links to a heading on the current page.

    • [Link to the section on another page](#another-section) links to a heading on another page.

Links to files in the IntelliJ Platform (intellij-community) repository use upsource:/// instead of the full URL to the repository. The upsource:/// URI effectively points to the root of the intellij-community repository.

  • [_README.md_](upsource:/// links to general, non-code information files, use italic style. ( Examples of this file type include LICENSE.txt and

  • [ `plugin.xml` ](upsource:///platform/editor-ui-api/src/com/intellij/openapi/actionSystem/ links to declarative source code files, use code style. (plugin.xml) Examples of this file type include: settings.gradle, plugin.xml or theme_basics.theme.json.

  • [ `AnAction` ](upsource:///platform/editor-ui-api/src/com/intellij/openapi/actionSystem/ links to source files for code objects like interfaces and classes, use code style but without the file extension. AnAction Examples of this file type includeJava and Kotlin.
    • Note the use of `` characters surrounding the class name in the link.

    • When linking to an API in this manner, the FQN isn't necessary in the link.

    • No file extension (*.java, *.kt, *.py, etc.) is used by convention.

    • Be judicious when using such links. Generally, only one link is needed for a given file on a documentation page.

  • Links to files in source code packages in other repositories follow much the same rules, except the links use https: instead of upsource:///.

Guidelines for Highlighting Syntax

In-paragraph code fragments and IntelliJ Platform APIs are formatted according to these rules:

  • Avoid using qualifiers like "Foo interface" or "Foo abstract class". Just refer to Foo.

  • The FQN is used for the first reference to an interface, class, or package on a page. Rather than AnAction, introduce it as com.intellij.openapi.actionSystem.AnAction. Subsequent references on the page can be AnAction. Exception: the FQN is not used with an upsource link.

  • Use the FQN when first introducing an extension point (EP) on a page. Rather than stubIndex, introduce com.intellij.stubIndex. Subsequent mentions on the page can be stubIndex. Exception: the FQN is not used when an extension point is introduced in an upsource link.

  • For XML elements, use the tag notation with syntax highlighting: <idea-version>. Attributes are shown with syntax highlighting, and attribute values are shown in quotes: since-build="191"

  • Method names always use empty parentheses: "call bar() to apply." Method names are prefixed with the class/interface name when needed for clarity:

Source Code

Source code is represented by using GitHub Flavoured Markdown code fences, which are three backticks.

Syntax highlighting is applied by specifying the language after the first set of ticks:

```xml // Some XML ``` ```java // Some Java code ```

Here is the list of supported languages, and also Kotlin, of course.

Whole files can be imported on a page using src attribute after code fences specifying the full path relative to code_samples root folder.


The advantage is the code can come from the code_samples directory, so it will be live code that isn't silently stale. The disadvantage is the file may contain a large class, too large for the documentation page to be useful. In any case, please keep code samples concise and avoid any unnecessary "surrounding" code or import statements.


The syntax is to use the pipe (|) and minus symbols:

| Column 1 | Column 2 | Column 3 | | -------- | -------- | -------- | | Blah | Blah | Blah |

Notes and Callouts

Notes and callouts can be specified using the blockquote syntax. The converter looks at the first following word to see if it is bold. If so, it applies a callout style. The example below will be displayed as a callout, styled as a "note":

> This is a note > {type="note"}

The styles available for callouts are:

  • tip- Information that makes the reader more productive.

  • note- Information that is important for the reader to understand. This callout is reserved for essential points and concepts.

  • warning- Information that is critical for the user to understand to prevent failures or errors.


Images can be included by adding the file directly to the intellij-sdk-docs repository. Each subject directory typically has an img subdirectory. Keep images close to the corresponding documentation file in the repository directory structure.

Images in this documentation are generally screenshots. The preferred image format is PNG at 144 DPI resolution. A resolution of 72 DPI is acceptable but may look blurry on high-resolution monitors.

It is crucial to reduce the size of image files to prevent bloating the repository and impacting the performance of the documentation site. Resize an image to be nearly the desired width on a documentation page. Reducing an image's dimensions is the most effective way to reduce image file size. Also, optimize the image files using a tool such as the PNG optimizer.

Images are embedded in a document by adding a Markdown link to the image like so:

![Alt text]()

If the width of an image needs to be adjusted, use Kramdown markup:

![Alt text](){width="42"}

Table of Contents

The table of contents for the site is displayed in the tree view on the left-hand side of the site, and it is generated from the ijs.tree file. The list can have nested items, which are displayed as child items in the table of contents.


If a node does not have its id attribute specified, it will still appear in the table of contents but will be greyed out and not clickable. It acts as a placeholder for a documentation item. A placeholder is useful to keep track of what should be documented, but hasn't yet, and can be helpful to show readers that the topic exists, but isn't yet documented (Pull Requests always welcome!).


When renaming pages, redirects should be configured so existing links and bookmarks continue working.

Specify the previous path(s) with .html extension in accepts-web-file-names attribute:

<toc-element id="" toc-title="Fundamentals" accepts-web-file-names="reference_guide.html,architectural_overview.html"/>
Last modified: 14 January 2021