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EclipseCon 2011

In this post we have invited Charles Bonneau, software architect & Eclipse addict at Euranova. Charles will share his feedback from EclipseCon EU 2011. Welcome Charles !

First time @EclipseCone

This year was my first attend at EclipseCon Europe, formerly known as Eclipse Summit Europe. I really enjoyed the time in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
I’m mostly focused on RCPs and modeling, so my vision of the conference may be a bit subjective.  What hit me first was the enthusiasm of the public, people from all around Europe, and further, meeting each other and learning about the stuff that is going on in the Eclipse Community.
Apart from the Java 7 Summit which took place during the convention, there were mainly two types of talks:

  • New frameworks and/or features
  • How people are using Eclipse

Models & DSL

In the first category, we heard a lot about modeling and how to display models. When I say models, I also talk about Domain Specific Languages. In this area, XText proved that we can do lot with this technology.

I discovered XCore, that is a DSL dedicated to Ecore, it allows you to describe an Ecore meta-model using a text editor, with the enhancements that eclipse provides, meaning syntax highlighting, auto completion and much more. Moreover, XCore offers some exclusive feature like defining how to handle derived features or describing the body of an operation. I really looking forward to use that technology !

One of the other usage of XText is XTend, a framework that provides a new way of writing java code, with a new syntax much simpler that is emptied of all the useless constraint that java may contains.

Spray is another DSL based on XText that allows you to define the link between the semantic model and it’s representation, and generate an editor for the model using Graphiti. Pretty impressive I must say.

I also attend a talk on How using XText to test refrigerator algorithms. But this talk fits more in the “Example” category.

Some guys even tried to add a XText editor inside a graphical representation of a model, they hacked both framework (Xtext and SWT) to add a DSL editor in SWT/JFace widgets: StyledText and CellEditor or even Property Sheets.

Another technology, that I found very promising is APPlause, that uses a DSL to define common touchscreen’s paradigm and then generates an App for every mobile platform. It still lacks of native integration (usage of the camera, accelerometer, notifications, etc) but for building a very simple App, it is awesome.

There were other demonstration of the power of XText which I did not attend:  for example XCode, a DSL for Eclipse Plugin Documentation.

For more conventional modeling tools, we saw a great presentation of three projects, whose purpose is to ease the collaborative modeling. The first project was the integration of the well known Mylyn into a Graphical model editor, that displays only the classes the user is working on, with some fancy effects to show the other classes only when needed.

The second one, Intent, links a model to its documentation, and then allows to see what impact, a change can have on both model and documentation. This tool even allows comparison between diagram on layout or semantic basis.

The third one was a sub-project of CDO (Connectede Data Objects) Model repository: Dawn. This project is a runtime that runs on top of the CDO Model Repository, and provides real time model sharing with conflict handling, locking (that CDO already has), Authentication/Authorizations and more. If you have never heard about CDO, you have to know that’s pretty easy to extend your current editor to make it run on CDO. The demo suffered of some small bugs, but it was pretty impressive.

Talking about CDO, I attended the talk called: CDO 3D. I have to say that I was disappointed. CDO 3D is just a tool that displays how CDO is working, not much. It was interesting to see how the objects are propagated from the client to the repository then to the other clients but I didn’t see any practical usage of this tool.

In the category of usage of eclipse, the talk “Large Scale EMF Model outside of eclipse” was  nothing else than an enumeration of problems without solution. So, not much to say about it except that I faced the same kind of problems in my every day job.

Did you say Microsoft?

To conclude I also saw how to use Microsoft Kinect within eclipse, this talk was fun but not very interesting from a developer’s point of view. However, that is interesting to see that something like a Kinect appeared in Eclipse community, because at the end of the day, the Kinect is about natural gesture and what Apple succeed to teach us? The fact that natural gesture could be a real innovation in user interface. We will see soon, if the Kinect will be the next gesture user interface in daily life of enterprise applications.

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