Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eclipse, Galileo and oAW

Yesterday was the big day: Eclipse 3.5 Galileo was just released.

I thought I'd use this occasion to give you an update about oAW in this context.

The Galileo release contains what has been known as oAW 5. Over the last year, oAW has been broken down into its constituent components, and the components have been contributed to Eclipse. oAW 5 can thus be considered a distribution, or packaging, of these components.

However, currently there's no real oAW 5 release, specifically the website does not yet reflect the newest release.

If you want to get the new code, you should simply download the available distributions. You can get the Everything-in-Modeling distribution from here the Eclipse download page or you can get the oAW distribution from itemis' oAW site.

So what's new in the current release?

First of all, Xtext has been completely rewritten, as part of the TMF project. This is why we now call it TMF Xtext. The new version is much more scalable, supports cross-language references well, supports (single) language inheritance and is generally much more flexible. Go to the official TMF Xtext project page to find (the really nice!) documentation and access to newsgroups and mailing lists.

oAW 5 also contains - as you would expect - Xpand, Xtend and Check. These are all wrapped under the M2T Xpand project. Compared to 4.3.1, no major changes have been made; a couple of bugs were fixed and a number of minor adaptations have been made to work better as an Eclipse citizen. There's also a wiki page as well as newsgroups and mailing lists.

Finally, the release also contains the tried and trusted workflow engine. It is now its own EMFT project, with the goal of encouraging other transformation tool developers to write a workflow component to integrate with workflows. Imaging you could simply use an ATL transformation or MOFScript generator as part of your workflow...!?

So you might wonder: what has happened to openArchitectureWare as a whole, now that all its "real stuff" has become Eclipse projects and the downloads are available as part of distros? There is now an oAW Working Group. It has its own mailing list and website, and this is the place where we want to gather oAW users, discuss the tool and coordinate further development in the context of the Eclipse development process. The website will be adapted soon to act as a redirect to the working group page.

Thanks to all the oAW comitters, specifically the itemis guys in Kiel, for doing a great job with the new release, specifically with TMF Xtext. I am not completely happy with all the decisions they've made, but it is an important and very good step forward!
Sunday, June 21, 2009

Synchronized editors with TMF/Xtext and GMF

Jan Koehnlein, in his blog talks about creating a system where TMF Xtext and GMF work on the same model. He has a screencast that shows it. Well worth watching.
Friday, June 19, 2009

Visio, EMF and oAW

A long time ago I built an integration of Visio with openArchitectureWare 3. As version three of oAW went out of use, I didn't have the time and resources to update the tooling for oAW 4 and EMF. Recently some people have asked me about Visio/EMF integration and I had to disappoint them...

However there's good news! Heiko Kern from Leipzig University has built a Visio/EMF bridge that looks really nice! I have not yet used it, but it looks really good.

So, whoever asked me about the Visio/EMF integration recently (I have to admit, I forgot who it was :-( ): why don't you try this out and let me and others know if it works for you?

CodeGeneration 2009 - a great conference

I spent the last three days at the CodeGeneration2009 conference. I knew it would be good, since it was good the last two years, but this year it was really great.

The good thing is that it really serves as a (european) community meeting for many folks involved in DSLs, MDD and code generation. The best part of the conference, hence, is meeting all the colleagues and friens in this space.

Also, this was the first conference in a long time where I spend almost every slot in a session: I was in Eelco Visser's Stratego/XT tutorial, in a panel or two, and in two goldfishbowls (I love the format!) about the relationship between DSLs and programming languages, and modeling vs. programming in general.

I had the pleasure of keynoting the event this year, together with Metacase's Steve Kelly. We never did a talk together, but I think our two co-presented keynotes on best and worst practices in DSLs and MDD went really well - at least that's what the audience feedback sounded like.

The talk on MPS with Konstantin Solomatov was also a great success. I started out by presenting a bunch of slides about the idea of programming == modeling and projectional editing, and then Konstanting gave an impressive demo of MPS. You could see a bunch of open mouths in the audience while he was showing off the tool (people told me that mine was also open :-)). After he finished his demo with the words "I think that's all I wanted to show" the audience spontaneously applauded.

I think tools like MPS and Intentional's Domain Workbench have a great future - even if currently they still have a couple of rough edges. Who cares if you have to wait another year for a revolution :-) ?

So, I guess, you should really consider going to Code Gen 2010 next year if you're into DSLs. Not the usual introductory stuff - really interesting content!

Thanks Mark Dalgarno!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flying with the Cambridge Gliding Club

Bernd Kolb and I spent yesterday evening with the Cambridge Gliding Centre. We are currently both at the Code Generation 2009 conference. Andrew Watson, also at the conference, and gliding instructor at Cambridge, invited us to join him for the Tuesday evening flying - thank you very much for this, Andrew!

Gliding really is the same everywhere, so once you are on an airfield, you can give everybody a hand and help out. And pilots are also a very nice bunch of folks, so it was easy to feel comfortable there. Bernd and I also both got a ride in one of their ASK-21's, a training plane both Bernd and I have a lot of exprience in. We did a winch take-off, and because it was evening already, it was only a five minute hop. I hadn't done a winch take-off for a long time, so it was also good exercise!

Thanks to the evening crew for their hospitality, and to Andrew to taking us along!
Friday, June 12, 2009

GMF is still awful

Today we had a GMF workshop at a customer (I was a participant, not the presenter). And I have to say I am still seriously underwhelmed by GMF ... I hadn't looked at it for a year or so. It is still basically unusable: awful editors, bad diagnostics and a lot of duplication.

Obviously, having a tool for defining graphical editors is a good thing. However, I think GMF really fails at delivering. It is too low level, and too brittle.

I wonder when somebody will build a decent (textual) language that supports simple creation of (GMF-based) graphical editors. York's Epsilon Eugenia is a step in the right direction.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

I hate travelling, continued

I am currently in Norway for a customer. Last night I was in the Ambassador Hotel in Drammen. I sucked - stay away! First I was in a room that was extremely loud, the trucks practically drove through the room. I asked for another room a minute after I arrived and they said they had no other room. Two hours later, after I tried in vain to sleep, I called the reception: "I want another room or I will leave the hotel". Then they had one....! I changed.

Of course I forgot my notebook power cord in the room, which meant I had to go back to the room the next morning. I asked at the reception to have them go into the room and grab the cable - they refused: "there's somebody else in there". I knocked at the room door 10 times, no reaction. They still said "somebody in there" and refused to let me in, "the person must be at breakfast". I asked everybody at breakfast. Nobody was in the room. After a long while I convinced a cleaning lady to let me in. It was empty. I got my cable. Of course I missed the train to the customer....

Next day, better hotel, Scandic Hotel in Asker. Nice room. Quiter. Of course at 21:40 a group of guests started dancing and singing outside the hotel in front of my room. No sleep, again.

I HATE TRAVELLING!!! I guess I really have to make sure that I have to travel less. The plan was to travel <= 50% as part of my work for itemis. However, as a consequence of the current economic situation I guess I have to travel more (again...).

Next year will be different! I promise (to myself)!
Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Keynote at Practical Product Lines 2009

I am happy to report that I will be giving a keynote at this year's Practical Product Lines conference. This is a new conference on PLE organized by Mark Dalgarno, who is also the person behind the very successful Code Generation conference series.

Now I just have to come up with a good topic/talk :-)
Thursday, June 04, 2009

MPS Beta 3

MPS Beta 3 is available for download. Important new features include a new, more text-flow-like editor layout as well as a facility to build custom MPS distributions/packages that only include your own languages.

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