Using Sublime Text as your IDE

Sublime Text is a fast, powerful and easily extensible code editor. Check out some visual demos for a quick demonstration.

You can download and install Sublime Text 3 from the Sublime Text Website. Assuming you have access to the right repositories, you can also install Sublime via apt-get on Linux. Help and general documentation is available in the Sublime Text 3 Docs.

Sublime can be used on Linux, Windows and Mac as an IDE for developing Chromium. Here's what works:

  • Editing code works well (especially if you're used to it and get used to the shortcuts).
  • Navigating around the code works well. There are multiple ways to do this (a full list of keyboard shortcuts is available for Windows/Linux and Mac).
  • Building works fairly well and it does a decent job of parsing errors so that you can click and jump to the problem spot.


Configuring Sublime

All global configuration for Sublime (including installed packages) is stored in ~/.config/sublime-text-3 (or %APPDATA\Sublime Text 3 on Windows, or ~/Library/Application Support/Sublime Text 3 on Mac). We will reference the Linux folder for the rest of this tutorial, but replace with your own path if using a different OS. If you ever want a clean install, just remove this folder.

Warning: If you have installed a license key for a paid version Sublime Text, removing this folder will delete the license key, too.

Most of the packages you will install will be placed in ~/.config/sublime- text-3/Packages/User, where Sublime Text can detect them. You can also get to this folder by selecting Preferences > Browse Packages... (or Sublime Text > Preferences > Browse Packages... on Mac).

A short word about paths

Certain packages require executables to be on your PATH, but Sublime gets the $PATH variable from a login shell, not an interactive session (i.e. your path needs to be set in ~/.bash_profile, ~/.zprofile, etc, not ~/.bashrc, ~/.zshrc, etc). For more info, see Debugging Path Problems.

Editing Preferences

Sublime configuration (including project files, key bindings, etc) is done via JSON files. All configurations have a Default config (usually provided with the program or package to document the available commands) and a User config (overrides the default; this is where your overrides go). For example, select Preferences > Settings - Default to see all the available settings for Sublime. You can override any of these in Preferences > Settings - User.

Here are some settings that help match the Chromium style guide:

  // Basic Chromium style preferences
  "rulers": [80],
  "tab_size": 2,
  "trim_trailing_white_space_on_save": true,
  "ensure_newline_at_eof_on_save": true,
  "translate_tabs_to_spaces" : true,

  // Optional, but also useful, preferences
  "always_show_minimap_viewport": true,
  "bold_folder_labels": true,
  "draw_white_space": "all",
  "enable_tab_scrolling": false,
  "highlight_line": true,

  // Mainly for Windows, but harmless on Mac/Linux
  "default_line_ending": "unix",

The settings will take effect as soon as you save the file.


  • View > Side Bar > Show Open Files will add a list of open files to the top of the sidebar
  • Ctrl+` will show the console; it shows errors and debugging output, and you can run Python
  • View > Distractio-Free Mode goes into fullscreen and removes Sublime's header and footer
  • View > Layout > ... changes the configuration of files you can open side- by-side
  • Ctrl + P (Cmd + P on Mac) quickly opens a search box to find a file or definition
  • Alt + O (Alt + Cmd + Up on Mac) switches between the source/header file
  • Alt + PageUp/Alt + PageDown (Alt + Cmd + Left/Alt + Cmd + Right on Mac) moves between tabs
  • F12 (Alt + Cmd + Down on Mac) goes to the symbol's definition
  • With text selected, Ctrl + D will multi-select the next occurrence (so typing in one types in all of them), and Ctrl+U deselects
  • Similarly, after finding something with Ctrl + F, Alt + Enter will select all occurrences of the search query, which can be multi-edited
  • Ctrl + X without anything selected cuts the current line, then move to a different line and Ctrl + V pastes it below the current line

Setting Sublime as the default Terminal editor

Add export EDITOR="subl -w" to your ~/.bashrc file (or similar) to open git commit messages, gn args, etc with Sublime Text. Since you may want to only open sublime when using a non-SSH session, you can wrap it in the following:

if [ "$SSH_CONNECTION" ]; then
  export EDITOR='vim'
  export EDITOR='subl -w'

Installing the Package Manager

The Sublime Package Manager is the way most Sublime packages are installed and configured. You can install the package manager by following in the installation instructions on their website. Once the package manager is installed, restart Sublime.

To install a package, press Ctrl + Shift + P and select Package Manager: Install Package (the string match is fairly leniant; you can just type "instp" and it should find it). Then type or select the package you want to install.

Mac Paths Fix

There is a known bug on Mac where Sublime doesn‘t detect the current path correctly. If you’re using Mac, install the package SublimeFixMacPath to find the path from your ~/.bashrc file or similar.

Making a New Project

Once you have a copy of the Chromium checkout, we'll make a new Sublime project with the src directory as the root.

To do this, create a new file chromium.sublime-project (or whatever name you‘d like) in the folder above your src/ directory, with the following contents (the exclude patterns are needed - Sublime can’t handle indexing all of Chrome's files):

  "folders": [
      "name": "chromium",
      "path": "src",
      "name": "Generated Files",
      "path": "src/out/Debug/gen",

If you are working on Blink, or any other third-party subproject, you can add it as a separate entry in the folders array:

  "name": "blink",
  "path": "src/third_party/WebKit",

Once you've saved the file, select Project > Switch Project and navigate to the chromium.sublime-project file.

Code Linting with CPPLint (Chromium only)

Note: CPPLint enforces the Google/Chromium style guide, and hence is not useful on third_party projects that use another style.

  1. Install the SublimeLinter package (Ctrl + Shift + P > Install Package > SublimeLinter).

  2. cpplint should be somewhere on your path so that SublimeLinter finds it. depot_tools includes, but it needs to be named cpplint, so on Linux and Mac you have to make a symlink to it:

    cd /path/to/depot_tools
    ln -s cpplint
    chmod a+x cpplint
  3. Install the SublimeLinter-cpplint package (Ctrl + Shift + P > Install Package > SublimeLinter-cpplint).

Now when you save a C++ file, red dots should appear next to lines that invalidate the style. You can change this behavior with Choose Lint Mode (`Ctrl

  • Shift + P > “lint mode”`).

You can also see and navigate all the linter errors with Show All Errors (`Ctrl

  • Shift + P > “show all”`). You can also use Next Error/Previous Error (and their associated shortcuts) to navigate the errors. The gutter at the bottom of the screen shows the message for the error on the current line.

You can also change the style of dot next to the line with Choose Gutter Theme (Ctrl + Shift + P > "gutter")

For a list of all preferences, see Preferences > Package Settings > SublimeLinter > Settings - Default (or Settings - User to edit your preferences).

Format Selection with Clang-Format (Chromium only)

Note: Like CPPLint, Clang-format enforces the Google/Chromium style guide, and hence is not useful on third_party projects that use another style.

  1. Inside src/, run:

    cd /path/to/chromium/src
    cp buildtools/clang_format/script/ ~/.config/sublime-text-3/Packages/User/
  2. This installs a plugin that defines the command “clang_format”. You can add the “clang_format” command to Preferences > Key Bindings - User, e.g.:

        { "keys": ["ctrl+shift+c"], "command": "clang_format" },
  3. Select some text and press Ctrl + Shift + C to format, or select no text to format the entire file

CodeSearch Integration with Chromium X-Refs

With Chromium X-Refs you can perform cross-reference searches in your editor. This gives you the call graph, overrides, references, declaration, and definition of most of the code. The results are as fresh as the search engine‘s index so uncomitted changes won’t be reflected.

More information on Chromium X-Ref's functionality (including keyboard and mouse shortcuts) can be found on the Chromium X-Refs page.

Code Completion with SublimeClang (Linux Only)

SublimeClang is a powerful autocompletion plugin for Sublime that uses the Clang static analyzer to provide real-time type and function completion and compilation errors on save. It works with Chromium with a script that finds and parses the appropriate *.ninja files to find the necessary include paths for a given file.

Note: Currently, only the Linux setup of SublimeClang is working. However, there are instructions below for Windows/Mac which you are welcome to try -- if you can get them to work, please update these instructions ^_^

More information on SublimeClang's functionality (including keyboard shortcuts) can be found on the SublimeClang GitHub page.


Note that there are recent (as of August 2017) changes to support C++14. Namely, you must use a more recent clang (3.9 is known to work), and use its resource directory instead of that supplied by SublimeClang.

  1. Install a recent libclang-dev to get a copy of 3.4 isn't recent enough, but 3.9 works. If you use something different, change the names and paths accordingly:

    sudo apt-get install libclang-3.9-dev
  2. Build and SublimeClang in your packages directory:

    cd ~/.config/sublime-text-3/Packages
    git clone --recursive SublimeClang
    cd SublimeClang
    # Copy to the internals dir
    cp /usr/lib/llvm-3.9/lib/ internals/
    # Fix src/main.cpp (shared_ptr -> std::shared_ptr)
    sed -i -- 's/shared_ptr/std::shared_ptr/g' src/main.cpp
    # Make the project - should be really quick, since is already built
    cd src && mkdir build && cd build
    cmake ..
  3. Edit your project file Project > Edit Project to call the script above (replace /path/to/depot_tools with your depot_tools directory):

        "sublimeclang_options_script": "python ${project_path}/src/tools/sublime/ -d '/path/to/depot_tools'",
  4. Edit your SublimeClang settings and set dont_prepend_clang_includes to true. This way you use the resource directory we set instead of the ancient ones included in the repository. Without this you won't have C++14 support.

  5. (Optional) To remove errors that sometimes show up from importing out of third_party, edit your SublimeClang settings and set:

  6. Restart Sublime. Now when you save a file, you should see a “Reparsing…” message in the footer and errors will show up in the output panel. Also, variables and function definitions should auto-complete as you type.

Note: If you're having issues, adding "sublimeclang_debug_options": true to your settings file will print more to the console (accessed with Ctrl + `) which can be helpful when debugging.

Debugging: If things don't seem to be working, the console Ctrl + ` is your friend. Here are some basic errors which have workarounds:

  1. Bad Libclang args
    • problem: tu is None... is showing up repeatedly in the console:
    • solution: is generating arguments that libclang can't parse properly. To fix this, make sure to export CHROMIUM_OUT_DIR="{Default Out Directory}" This is because the file will use the most recently modified build directory unless specified to do otherwise. If the chosen build directory has unusual args (say for thread sanitization), libclang may fail.

Mac (not working)

  1. Install cmake if you don't already have it

  2. Install XCode

  3. Copy libclang.dylib from XCode to the SublimeClang/internals folder:

    cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/Sublime\ Text\ 3/Packages
    git clone --recursive SublimeClang
    cd SublimeClang
    cp /Applications/ internals/libclang.dylib
    # Remove i386 from the build file since XCode's libclang.dylib is only a 64-bit version
    sed -ie 's/CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES i386 x86_64/CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES x86_64/' src/CMakeLists.txt
    # Copy libclang.dylib to the internals dir
    # Make the project - should be really quick, since libclang.dylib is already built
    cd src && mkdir build && cd build
    cmake ..
  4. The rest of the instructions are the same, but when adding your project settings, add these extra arguments to sublimeclang_options:

      // MAC-ONLY: Include these options, replacing the paths with the correct installed SDK
      "-isystem", "/Applications/",
      "-isystem", "/Applications/",
      "isysroot", "/Applications/",
      "-isystem", "/usr/include",
      "-isystem", "/usr/include/c++/*",

Windows (not working)

You'll need cl.exe which can be installed with the Visual C++ Build Tools 2015. You should have cl.exe on your $PATH, which you can get by running C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual C++ Build Tools\Visual C++ 2015 x64 Native Build Tools Command Prompt.

Then you'll need a copy of, which can be found on the LLVM website. The instructions should be the same as Linux from there.

Alternative: Code Completion with Ctags

For a fast way to look up symbols, we recommend installing the CTags plugin.

  1. Install Exuberant Ctags and make sure that ctags is in your path: (on linux you should be able to just do sudo apt-get install ctags)
  2. Install the Ctags plugin: Ctrl + Shift + P > Install Package > Ctags

Once installed, you‘ll get an entry in the context menu when you right click the top level folder(s) in your project that allow you to build the Ctags database. If you’re working in a Chrome project however, do not do that at this point, since it will index much more than you actually want. Instead, do one of:

  1. Create a batch file (e.g. ctags_builder.bat) that you can run either manually or automatically after you do a gclient sync:

    ctags --languages=C++ --exclude=third_party --exclude=.git --exclude=build --exclude=out -R -f .tmp_tags & ctags --languages=C++ -a -R -f .tmp_tags third_party\platformsdk_win7 & move /Y .tmp_tags .tags

    This takes a couple of minutes to run, but you can work while it is indexing.

  2. Edit the CTags.sublime-settings file for the ctags plugin so that it runs ctags with the above parameters. Note: the above is a batch file - don't simply copy all of it verbatim and paste it into the CTags settings file)

Once installed, you can quickly look up symbols with Ctrl+t, Ctrl+t etc. More information on keyboard shortcuts can be found on the CTags GitHub page.

One more hint - Edit your .gitignore file (under %USERPROFILE% or ~/) so that git ignores the .tags file. You don't want to commit it. :)

If you don't have a .gitignore in your profile directory, you can tell git about it with this command: Windows: git config --global core.excludesfile %USERPROFILE%\.gitignore Mac, Linux: git config --global core.excludesfile ~/.gitignore

Building inside Sublime

To build inside Sublime Text, we first have to create a new build system.

You can add the build system to your project file (Project > Edit Project), replacing out/Debug with your output directory (on Windows, replace /'s with \s in cmd and working_dir):

  "folders": [
      "name": "Build Chrome",
      "cmd": ["ninja", "-C", "out/Debug", "chrome"],
      "working_dir": "${project_path}/src",
      "file_regex": "^[.\\\\/]*([a-z]?:?[\\w.\\\\/]+)[(:]([0-9]+)[,:]?([0-9]+)?[)]?:(.*)$",
      "variants": [],

The file regex will allow you to click on errors to go to the error line.

If you're using goma, add the -j parameter (replace out/Debug with your out directory):

    "cmd": ["ninja", "-j", "1000", "-C", "out/Debug", "chrome"],

Regex explanation: Aims to capture these error formats while respecting Sublime's perl-like group matching:

  1. d:\src\chrome\src\base\threading\ error C2653: 'Foo': is not a class or namespace name
  2. ../../base/threading/,26) error: use of undeclared identifier 'Foo'
  3. ../../base/threading/ error: use of undeclared identifier 'Foo'
"file_regex": "^[.\\\\/]*([a-z]?:?[\\w.\\\\/]+)[(:]([0-9]+)[,:]?([0-9]+)?[)]?:(.*)$"
                (   0   ) (   1  )(    2     ) (3 )(  4   )( 5 )(   6   )(7 ) (8 )

(0) Cut relative paths (which typically are relative to the out dir and targeting src/ which is already the "working_dir")
(1) Match a drive letter if any
(2) Match the rest of the file
(1)+(2) Capture the "filename group"
(3) File name is followed by open bracket or colon before line number
(4) Capture "line number group"
(5) If (6) is non-empty there will be a comma or colon preceding it (but can't put it inside brackets as the "column number group" only wants digits).
(6) Capture "column number group" if any
(7) Closing bracket of either "(line)" or "(line,column)" if bracket syntax is in effect
(8) Everything else until EOL is the error message.

Building other targets

You can add build variants to the variants array to have quick access to other build targets with Ctrl + Shift + B:

      "name": "Unit Tests",
      "cmd": ["ninja", "-j", "1000", "-C", "out/Debug", "unit_tests"],
      "name": "Browser Tests",
      "cmd": ["ninja", "-j", "1000", "-C", "out/Debug", "browser_tests"],
      "name": "Current file",
      "cmd": ["compile_single_file", "--build-dir", "out/Debug", "--file-path", "$file"],

You can also add a variant for running chrome, meaning you can assign a keyboard shortcut to run it after building:

      "cmd": ["out/Debug/chrome"],
      "name": "run_chrome",
      "shell": true,
      "env": {
        "CHROME_DEVEL_SANDBOX": "/usr/local/sbin/chrome-devel-sandbox",

More detailed stack traces

Chrome‘s default stack traces don’t have full file paths so Sublime can't parse them. You can enable more detailed stack traces and use F4 to step right to the crashing line of code.

First, add print_unsymbolized_stack_traces = true to your gn args, and make sure you have debug symbols enabled too (symbol_level = 2). Then, pipe Chrome‘s stderr through the script. Here’s a suitable build variant for Linux (with tweaked file_regex):

  "name": "Build and run with asan_symbolize",
  "cmd": "ninja -j 1000 -C out/Debug chrome && out/Debug/chrome 2>&1 | ./tools/valgrind/asan/",
  "shell": true,
  "file_regex": "(?:^|[)] )[.\\\\/]*([a-z]?:?[\\w.\\\\/]+)[(:]([0-9]+)[,:]?([0-9]+)?[)]?:?(.*)$"

You can test it by visiting chrome://crash. You should be able to step through each line in the resulting stacktrace with F4. You can also get a stack trace without crashing like so:

#include "base/debug/stack_trace.h"

Assigning builds to keyboard shortcuts

To assign a build to a keyboard shortcut, select Preferences > Key Bindings - User (or Key Bindings - Default to see the current key bindings). You can add the build variants above with the "build" command, like so:

  { "keys": ["ctrl+shift+u"], "command": "build", "args": {"variant": "unit_tests"} },
  { "keys": ["ctrl+shift+b"], "command": "build", "args": {"variant": "browser_tests"} },
  { "keys": ["ctrl+shift+x"], "command": "build", "args": {"variant": "run_chrome"} },

For more info on custom key bindings, see the Sublime Text Key Bindings Documentation.

Other useful packages

Some other useful packages that improve sublime can be installed from Ctrl+Shift+P > Install Package:

  • Git enhancements
    • Git
    • GitCommitMsg - Performs a ‘git blame’ for one or more lines of code with Alt + Shift + M (Command + Shift + M on Mac)
    • GitDiffHelper - Ctrl + Alt + G to open all files modified since the last commit
    • GitOpenChangedFiles - Ctrl + Shift + O (Command + Shift + O on Mac) to open all files modified on the current branch
    • Git Conflict Resolver
      • A GUI for resolving git conflicts
    • GitGutter - Shows an icon next to lines that have been inserted, modified or deleted since the last commit.
  • Visual enhancements
    • SyncedSideBar - Syncs the currently open file with the expanded tree in the sidebar
    • SideBarEnhancements - Adds more file management options to the sidebar context menu.
    • SyncedSidebarBg - A purely aesthetic improvement that syncs the sidebar background with the background color for the current theme.
    • Theme - Soda - A global theme for Sublime that matches the default color scheme. Needs "theme": "Soda Light 3.sublime-theme" in your Preferences > Settings - User` file.
  • Code navigation tools
  • Text tools
    • Case Conversion - automatically changes the case of selected text, e.g. kConstantName to CONSTANT_NAME
    • Text Pastry - Inserts incremental number sequences with multi-select
    • Wrap Plus - Auto-wraps a comment block to 80 columns with Alt + Q (was used to write this document! ;-)
    • Diffy - With two files opened side-by-side, Ctrl + k Ctrl + d will show the differences