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Summary

Adding features like auto complete, go to definition, or documentation on hover for a programming language takes significant effort. Traditionally this work had to be repeated for each development tool, as each tool provides different APIs for implementing the same feature.

A Language Server is meant to provide the language-specific smarts and communicate with development tools over a protocol that enables inter-process communication.

The idea behind the Language Server Protocol (LSP) is to standardize the protocol for how such servers and development tools communicate. This way, a single Language Server can be re-used in multiple development tools, which in turn can support multiple languages with minimal effort.

LSP is a win for both language providers and tooling vendors!

  • request
{
    "jsonrpc": "2.0",
    "id" : 1,
    "method": "textDocument/definition",
    "params": {
        "textDocument": {
            "uri": "file:///p%3A/mseng/VSCode/Playgrounds/cpp/use.cpp"
        },
        "position": {
            "line": 3,
            "character": 12
        }
    }
}
  • resp
{
    "jsonrpc": "2.0",
    "id": 1,
    "result": {
        "uri": "file:///p%3A/mseng/VSCode/Playgrounds/cpp/provide.cpp",
        "range": {
            "start": {
                "line": 0,
                "character": 4
            },
            "end": {
                "line": 0,
                "character": 11
            }
        }
    }
}

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