Release 23.03 Highlights

Helix is a modal text editor with built-in support for multiple selections, Language Server Protocol (LSP), tree-sitter, and experimental support for Debug Adapter Protocol (DAP).

Today marks the 23.03 release. First, a big thank you to everyone involved! This release includes changes from 102 contributors. Today's release brings some especially useful and exciting features, so let's jump right in.


Soft-wrap breaks up lines to fit in view without inserting actual line break characters into the text (so called "hard-wrapping"). This can be useful for reading and editing documentation or code with especially long lines. Enable soft-wrap in your config with the editor.soft-wrap.enable key:

# ~/.config/helix/config.toml
enable = true

Heuristics for where to break lines and the wrap indicator may also be configured.

Soft-wrap is the first feature implemented on top of a new "virtual text" API within the Helix codebase. The virtual text API allows us to decorate and manipulate the actual text in a document without disturbing positioning and modifications. The virtual text API opens the door for many new exciting features like the inlay hints we'll see next.

Inlay hints

Inlay hints are a new feature in the latest LSP specification. Language servers can provide editors with hints to show in a document. In the example above, rust-analyzer provides type hints for variables and intermediary expressions as well as parameter names in function calls.

Inlay hints can be enabled in your config with the lsp.display-inlay-hints key.

Initial support for snippets

LSP snippets are a way for language servers to provide more complex completions for an editor. Language servers can specify where to place cursors within a completion (tabstops), placeholder values and more. Helix now has initial support for LSP completions, leaving more advanced snippet features like virtual placeholders, multiple tabstops, and variable substitutions for future work.

Dynamic workspace symbol picker

The workspace symbol picker (<space>S) is an LSP-driven feature for looking up a symbol in a project. Large projects might have many symbols, though, so this symbol picker typically wouldn't load them all at once. The workspace symbol picker has been reworked in this release though to dynamically re-request symbols with a new query as you type in the picker. This lets the language server narrow down the number of symbols and only tell Helix about the ones relevant to the search. This rework fixes compatibility with some language servers which returned empty symbols with no query (gopls, pyright, clangd) or limited results (rust-analyzer).

The "dynamic picker" introduced in this refactor may benefit other pickers in the future, for example allowing the global search picker (<space>/) to update on-the-fly as you change the query.

Version control HEAD statusline element

A new statusline element has been added which displays the version control HEAD. Add this to your statusline by introducing the "version-control" element in the editor.statusline section of your config for the left, center or right sides.

Enhanced keyboard protocol

Support for the enhanced keyboard protocol is now enabled. Terminals that support the protocol (Kitty, WezTerm) can now send unambiguous keycodes to Helix, enabling key combinations that weren't possible to bind before like C-/, C-h or S-backspace. This functionality works out-of-the-box for terminals that support the protocol.

Runtime directory refactor

Helix keeps files like tree-sitter parsers and queries, themes and the tutor file in a special "runtime" directory. This directory is typically installed by your package manager and shouldn't be modified by hand. Multiple runtime directories are now supported, so you can keep the runtime files installed by your package manager unchanged while adding new tree-sitter parsers and queries to a local runtime directory. On Unix systems you can add files to the ~/.config/helix/runtime directory which take precedence over the runtime directory installed by a package manager.

Wrapping up

These flashy features are just the tip of the iceberg though. Check out the 23.03 changelog for the full details on all of the changes in this release.

Come chat about usage and development questions in the Matrix space and follow along with Helix's development in the GitHub repository.