Normally, elements of
font-lock-keywords should not match
across multiple lines; that doesn't work reliably, because Font Lock
usually scans just part of the buffer, and it can miss a multi-line
construct that crosses the line boundary where the scan starts. (The
scan normally starts at the beginning of a line.)
Making elements that match multiline constructs work properly has two aspects: correct identification and correct rehighlighting. The first means that Font Lock finds all multiline constructs. The second means that Font Lock will correctly rehighlight all the relevant text when a multiline construct is changed—for example, if some of the text that was previously part of a multiline construct ceases to be part of it. The two aspects are closely related, and often getting one of them to work will appear to make the other also work. However, for reliable results you must attend explicitly to both aspects.
There are three ways to ensure correct identification of multiline constructs:
font-lock-extend-region-functionsthat does the identification and extends the scan so that the scanned text never starts or ends in the middle of a multiline construct.
font-lock-fontify-region-functionhook similarly to extend the scan so that the scanned text never starts or ends in the middle of a multiline construct.
font-lock-multilinewhich will instruct font-lock not to start or end the scan in the middle of the construct.
There are three ways to do rehighlighting of multiline constructs:
font-lock-multilineproperty on the construct. This will rehighlight the whole construct if any part of it is changed. In some cases you can do this automatically by setting the
font-lock-multilinevariable, which see.
jit-lock-contextuallyis set and rely on it doing its job. This will only rehighlight the part of the construct that follows the actual change, and will do it after a short delay. This only works if the highlighting of the various parts of your multiline construct never depends on text in subsequent lines. Since
jit-lock-contextuallyis activated by default, this can be an attractive solution.
jit-lock-defer-multilineproperty on the construct. This works only if
jit-lock-contextuallyis used, and with the same delay before rehighlighting, but like
font-lock-multiline, it also handles the case where highlighting depends on subsequent lines.