Preparations for CodeGeneration 2013

As I am addicted to code generation and DSLs, the CodeGeneration conference in Cambridge is always a must each year. Last year I could not make it, since I had the chance to speak at EclipseCon North America, which was in the same week. This year Mark took EclipseCon into his considerations (it was last week), so me and my colleagues from itemis will be there again. Actually, this year we will be more itemis guys then ever. Mark already assumed in his opening words at CG2011 that almost everyone from itemis would be there, this year we prove itemis is larger. I think our company is so close related to the conference theme that it is natural that we have lots to present, and much interest to hear others about what they are doing and have learned in the past.

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Before the actual CodeGeneration conference starts on Wednesday, there are some pre-conference activities. My colleagues Holger Schill and Moritz Eysholdt will hold an intensive 2-day Xtext workshop on monday and tuesday.

I will arrive monday noon, since I take the early flight directly from my hometown Dortmund to London Luton. From there, I have to take a 2 hour bus trip to Cambridge. In the evening, I plan to meet Holger, Moritz, Meinte Boersma and hopefully some others in the Castle Inn pub. When you arrive on monday, drop into the Castle Inn roughly at 20 PM (I guess we go to a restaurant before). You can reach me there on my mobile phone: screenshot 2013-04-05 um 12.30.02

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On tuesday this year’s Language Workbench Challenge summit takes place. We have 14 submissions (wow!) for the LWC13 assignment. I have been working on the Xtext submission together with 2 colleagues, Johannes Dicks and Thomas Kutz. The results are available as open-source project lwc13-xtext at Eclipselabs. We have prepared a detailed step-by-step tutorial as submission paper. The resulting document LWC13-XtextSubmission.pdf is available for download. On the project homepage I have placed today a quick start tutorial. Oh boy, this project did cost some time. The actual solution is not much code, but as often, it is harder to write less code than more. It could be even less, but we took care of that the code is readable and understandable. And writing the document is at least that much work as the implementation.

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Every presenter has only 15 minutes to present their approach. 15 minutes presentation for that much work. I guess that the other participants did invest also quite some time. Both of my co-authors got the chance to visit the conference, and Thomas will support me with the presentation. He will demo the resulting JSF application and DSL source code while I do the main talking. We did a test run of the talk yesterday evening, and easily exceeded 20 minutes. I think Angelo will bring his egg timer again, which begs no pardon with the talk time of speakers. But only that way we will be able to run 14 talks on one day. We will have to restrict on the most important aspects only.

Besides my colleagues Thomas and Johannes also Sven Lange will join us then. I have the pleasure to work with him in my long-time project at Deutsche Börse (German Stock Exchange), now since over half a year. Sven is a highly motivated, skilled and smart person. It is still the same project I have reported about at CodeGeneration 2009 together with my former colleague Heiko Behrens. Sven is full-time working on this project, while I am for 20% scheduled. We have migrated here a huge code generator project from Xpand to Xtend. This alone would be worth an experience report session. Sven is working on Xtend support for IntelliJ, which he might present in a Lightning Talk on wednesday.

Wednesday the conference will start. I will have my main talk “Alive and Kicking with Code Generation” together with Dr. Boris Baginski from ATOSS Software AG after lunch at 13:45.

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Currently we are finalizing our presentation slides. Boris has been ill for some days and busy with a new release of their ASES product, a workforce management suite. This is really an interesting customer and project. They are evolving this product now for 25 years, and they make use of code generation for ages. I think one can say that it helped them to survive in their business, some contestants did not manage to make larger platform shifts and died. Most of them tried a big-bang replacement, but the business is too fast evolving so that the target is moving steadily. Boris and I will speak about this product and how it has been evolved over the years. ATOSS was one of the first major projects using openArchitectureWare 4 (which mainly means Xpand), and now they are currently preparing a shift to Xtend.

I am glad that this talk is already on wednesday, I never come to rest until I finished some talk. After it, I can just relax and enjoy the conference. I am expecting some interesting insights on different approaches. Especially experience reports are interesting for me. I did not finally decide which sessions I will attend. At the moment I plan to see John Hutchinson with “The Use of Model-Driven Development in Industry” in the morning, and Darius Silingas with “Why MDA Fails: Analysis of Unsuccessful Cases” in the afternoon.

In the evening it is again time for the punting boat tour. I already attended three times, but it will be great fun again for sure. Let’s hope the weather is not too bad. I saw a prediction of ~10°C and possibility of light shower. In the past we had luck, and on a warm, sunny day the tour is double fun. However, I’ll better put an umbrella into the suitcase.

On thursday I have again an active part in the hands-on session “Have Your Language Built While You Wait”, which is hosted by Risto Pohjonen from MetaCase. The idea of this session is that attendees can get a DSL with the language workbench of their choice built with the help of experts for this workbench. Of course I will assist on Xtext. If you had no chance to visit the Xtext workshop this might be your chance to get some hands on Xtext. This session was already run last year successfully. Last year my colleague Benjamin Schwertfeger took over the Xtext part, since we were at EclipseCon.

There are also some other talks around Xtext and Xtend. Both have been released in version 2.4 on March 20th, which brings some interesting new features. Most notably in regard to code generation are the Active Annotations. I guess this is also part of what Sven Efftinge will adress as future of code generation in his keynote “The Past, Present and Future of Code Generation” wednesday morning. More details he will present together with Sebastian Zarnekow in the tutorial “Internal DSLs with Xtend” (thursday 10:45-12:00). The last Xtext related talk will be from Moritz Eysholdt, called “Executable Specifications for Xtext Languages” (friday 10:45-12:15). I am actually not sure which of these talks I will attend personally. They are most relevant for my work, and I don’t work close enough with them to catch everything new in Xtext on my own. Thus, I’ll definetely would learn important aspects. On the other side, there are also other interesting talks in parallel.

The coming week will be an intensive experience with lots to learn and interesting persons to meet. Although I will really enjoy this time, I will be glad when I finally come back home. At the moment, my family is ill and I hope that I get not infected these days. I have been looking forward and worked for this event, so I am crossing fingers when I can board monday morning healthy.

I am sure the organizing team around Mark and Jacqui will do again a great job.

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See you there and let’s make this event special!

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