** 17-02-2010 I've updated the demo to use the BackgroundWorker and posted about the update **

I decided it might be fun to try get Python Markdown and Pygments running in the browser to enhance a markdown preview experience by eliminating the server-side round trips and provide a more responsive preview.

I managed to get it working entirely in Python but I found the application size excessively large (almost 3mb) and, more annoyingly, it seems to block the entire browser when it initially loads the pygments module. I think there is some sort of silverlight background thread I should be using.

I think it would work better with MarkdownSharp as pure C# silverlight applications are a fair bit leaner in size and probably run a little quicker than dynamic language applications. But this was for fun and I prefer coding in Python when not working.

** 17-02-2010 I've since found the MarkdownSharp doesn't do syntax hightlighting **

I ended up having to write so little Python code to get this working that I can include it all here, syntax highlighted with Pygments of course.

from System.Windows import Application
from System.Windows.Controls import UserControl
from System.Windows.Browser import HtmlPage
from System import EventHandler

class App:

    def __init__(self):

        # load relevent HTML DOM elements
        self.input = HtmlPage.Document.GetElementById("input")
        self.source = HtmlPage.Document.GetElementById("output")
        self.language = HtmlPage.Document.GetElementById("lang")

        # fire javascript functions to indicate the application has been load

        # pygmentize initial

        # register events
        self.input.AttachEvent('onkeyup', EventHandler(self.update_handler ))
        self.language.AttachEvent('onchange', EventHandler(self.update_handler ))

        # fire javascript function to indicated the pygments has been loaded

    # handle language or input changes by pygmentizing
    def update_handler(self, sender, e):

    def pygmentize(self):
        input = self.input.GetProperty("value")

        # attempt to pygmentize input with current language
            from pygments import highlight
            from pygments.lexers import get_lexer_by_name
            from pygments.formatters import HtmlFormatter

            lexer = get_lexer_by_name(self.language.value, stripall=True)
            formatter = HtmlFormatter(linenos=False, cssclass="source")
            markup = highlight(input, lexer, formatter)

            # update the preview


            # indicate there was an error in pygmentize
            self.source.SetProperty("innerHTML", "Error Generating Markup")

# Do it!

Despite the fact that there isn't much code, the development experience writing silverlight application in python is a bit of a pain in the arse. Granted it's much better with the python console in the browser and better error reporting in most recent SDK, but it still sucks; debugging and logging support is very limited and on some errors the application dies without reporting anything.

Another difficulty is having to manually copy all the python standard library modules required by the module from the library folders into the application (which explains something about the bloated application size). And even though the code in the demo works, some very similar code from the pygments quick start doesn't.

Check out the live demo.