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Thanks for the helpful replies. Some useful pointers there for exploration.

What I wanted was to modify the version of Markdown I'm using (the excellent Lua version from Niklas Frykholm) so that any Lua code blocks are marked up with <span> tags according to their syntax. The place to insert the coloring code would be somewhere around here (line 842):

-- Encode/escape certain characters inside Markdown code runs.
-- The point is that in code, these characters are literals,
-- and lose their special Markdown meanings.
function encode_code(s)
	s = s:gsub("%&", "&amp;")
	s = s:gsub("<", "&lt;")
	s = s:gsub(">", "&gt;")
	for k,v in pairs(escape_table) do
		s = s:gsub("%"..k, v)
	return s

I've played with calling Vim, but - as a newcomer - imagined that the necessary Lua code had already been written and would be better than trying to interact with other processes... I had also imagined that it would be simpler... :)

I'll investigate your scripts, Peter, but it will won't be immediately because I don't currently have the development tools (eg gcc) installed on this machine and so can only run pre-built binaries and Lua source files... :)