EclipseCon Europe 2017 – Part 2

This time I really had to split up my look back to EclipseCon Europe into multiple posts. In my previous post I wrote my rememberings on ECE 2017 before it actually began. It was about my arrival and first meetings with the community, the Unconference on Monday and the reception and networking at the Nestor bar.

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On Tuesday it was finally time to open the doors for EclipseCon Europe! It is already beginning at the reception and wardrobe where you meet lots of people and welcome them. Of course there is not much time then, but I was looking forward to find more time for chatting later.

Preparing for showtime

Tuesday morning is the tutorials slot. I would have liked to join Mickael Istria’s slot on the Language Server Protocol and Eclipse’s Generic Editor. This is definetely a topic where I will bring my experience in and will contribute to. Instead, I chose to prepare for my first talks on that day.

All itemis colleagues met at our booth and we built it up together. The booth played a central role for us later and we wanted to make it an interesting place to be for attendees also. And hey – we had stickers this year again! I ordered them recently and improved my Gimp skills to make them free form cuts. The quality is good, and now we know where to order good ones.

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At noon it was time to meet up again. Not sure with whom I joined that day. I think it was Tuesday where I joined Lorenzo Bettini and Francesco and Vincenso from RCP Vision. Or already Monday? I have an information overload to get this correct in a row.

Keynotes

After lunch it was time for the opening keynote from Mike Milinkovich. But before that, Ludwigsburg’s mayor gave an insight on Ludwigsburg’s history. You may have read it, the Eclipse Foundation and Ludwigsburg agreed to keep EclipseCon Europe further for at least two years there. Good choice. The location is just perfect for this conference.

Then it became time for Mike to welcome the audience and have an outlook on the future of Eclipse. These are exciting times, many projects are joining the Eclipse Foundation. With the move of JavaEE to EE4J at Eclipse, not less than 40 new projects are pushing in, and GlassFish alone has 130 git repos. It will be a challenging task to spark this project. I don’t want to get into the details now, but OpenJ9, Deeplearning4J are other awesome projects at the Foundation now. Eclipse Science is also getting things rolling and are successful on their own release train now. The Eclipse IDE supports now Java 9 and JUnit 5 and has been added to Eclipse Oxygen.1a and Photon. The Eclipse Public License 2.0 has been released this year, and JUnit 5 was the first project licensed under EPL-2.0.

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I have to admit that I was distracted during Anna Ståhlbröst’s keynote then. I partially followed and enjoyed how she presented live in Luleå, near to the polar circle in northern Sweden. The reason for distraction was that it was immediately after the keynote time for my next talk.

itemis Booth Talks

Now it was finally time for an idea that we had for our booth. The idea was to use our technical and presentation skills and give short talks at the booth. The short break between the keynotes and the afternoon talks was used by Lothar Wendehals, and he showed in just 5 minutes how to program an embedded system with our YAKINDU Statechart Tools. And it took not more time until he programmed an Arduino to do something which he modeled as a finite state machine.

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Showtime!

In “Introduction to Expression Languages with Xtext” I showed how to build languages in Xtext that embed expressions. There is Xbase, which can be easily consumed and implements a fully-fledged base expression language. So why not just use Xbase? There are reasons sometimes not to do so. Mostly because of three reasons: Performance, the need for another typesystem (Xbase is bound to the Java typesystem), or when no dependency on JDT is required.

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But you can learn a lot from the Xbase grammar. When you look at this grammar, it seems complex and makes much use of some more advanced Xtext grammar concepts like Syntactic Predicates or Assign Actions. Many Xtext users are not aware of that, or don’t understand them. So I explained them and where to use them, and I showed some patterns that any expression language follows in Xtext. The patterns are not that visible on first sight, but I gave another view on them.

With a slight delay because of after-session discussion I joined Martin Lippert’s talk “Implementing Language Servers – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly“. Martin did a great presentation about lessons learned from implementing and using multiple language IMG_4666servers, and the state of the LSP. If you are interested in LSP and missed it, look for the recorded session. I gave Martin later direct feedback on his good performance (as he always does).

It was right before the first session when Dominik Mohilo from jaxenter.de showed up. He is continuously reporting interesting stuff in his online articles for years now, and helping Eclipse to get more intention in the developers’ minds in Germany. Thus I really value his work and was excited to finally meet him in person. Many thinks about Eclipse I read from him first, because they show up in my Facebook timeline and often I read those articles. He was even more excited to finally meet the drivers behind Eclipse in person. He wrote already a good wrap up about ECE 2017 for his Eclipse Weekly newsletter (german).

News on Photon, GEF and the Jigsaw

I invited Dominik to join our next ignite talks. Now it was my time to present brand new stuff. I showed some of the things that were added from Photon milestone 1 to 3, and even some of the things that are just about to come by my contributions. Besides some nice usability features and now fully working dark theme, I showed one of the most important things that users can await:

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I am investigating from time to time where I think Eclipse could perform better and if I have ideas on that. Some additions that I am proud of are the “Expand All” action in the Search Views’s tree. I showed both Oxygen and Photon for a search result of ~5000 elements, and the improvement is at least factor 2. Also in this demo you could see another nice feature coming for macOS: The wait-cursor was an ugly black/white circle. I found a hidden gem in macOS to get an animated system cursor. Actually it is so hidden that you just hear rumors on this blue spinning ball on the net and almost find no pictures of it with a Google search. It is not documented, but I found a hint for it in a source file of macOS. I think it looks now much nicer.

Also the improved speed of progress monitor updates I could show in difference between Oxygen and Photon, which is just amazingly faster now. You will recognize this for example if you import projects from the Git Repository view. At the moment I am analyzing the performance of the (Java) text editor and have some patches pending. On my machine it feels already snappy again. I think the conference attendees around enjoyed my performance.

screenshot 132Next it was Alexander Nyßen to talk about “How we saved GEF from the Jigsaw”. To the luck of the GEF project they were one of the very early adopters of Java 9 and tested what implications Java 9 brought for GEF. They wanted of course to assure that GEF will be compatible to Java 9 once it is out, and found some issues. And they got in direct contact with the guys from Oracle to request some changes GEF and others would need. Users of GEF can be happy now, GEF works smoothly on Java 9!

My afternoon talk schedule

IMG_4667The next session I attended was Andreas Graf’s presentation “Large Scale Model Transformations with Xtend“. As written in my previous post, model transformations are one of the main use cases for Xtend, but only known by a few people. Andreas is working in the automotive sector, where you usually have VERY large models, sometimes hundreds of megabytes in source. Transforming them is challenging, and they initially did an evaluation on different technologies (e.g. QVT-O). They finally decided to use Xtend. Some of the reasons were Xtend’s performance and debuggability. Did you ever tried to debug an interpreter on a large model? It’s horrible. With Xtend you can just debug the code and also down to its transpiled Java code. And they do not experience serious bugs with Xtend.

I skipped one slot and went to our booth, where I joined some discussions with attendees and colleagues. Then it became time to listen to Olaf Gunkel’s talk “the Future is async – or Java Concurrency in the change of time“. He explained concurrency programming from Java 1.0 to Java 9, and the different paradigms. I actually learned quite something about the newest stuff, reactive streams. Also Completable Future I do not use frequently – until yet.

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Eclipse Stammtisch

That was the last talk for Tuesday and finally time to get beer at the Stammtisch, which took place in the theater’s foyer where our booth was. We made a small “flash mob”: All of us got the same T-Shirt, one with the funny bunny we had on our rollup at EclipseCon France. And suddenly it could be recognized how large the itemis crowd was. Around 20 persons from itemis, from which 8 were speakers with 12 talks.

It must have been a nightmare for the EclipseCon’s program committee to choose from so many talks. Of course they will tend to provide a diverse program and don’t let single companies a too big focus. But that we were able to give 12 talks shows that they believed in the quality of our content and presentation. And no, we had no one from itemis at the program committee.

I could not remember to whom I spoke at the reception all to, but one was different: I met Brian de Alwis, who made all the way from Canada to EclipseCon Europe. It was at EclipseConverge & DevoxxUS where I got to know him. We had the same shitty over-expensive hotel and met at breakfast. It was always refreshing to speak with him, a very nice guy. Actually it was him who partially sparked my interest to contribute to Eclipse Platform. The story behind would be worth another post.

The real conference

The party was of course not over when the last beer was served at the reception. It just begun. Of course it was again time to go over to Nestor, drink more beer and talk with all the Eclipse members that were joining there. At the bar there is happening the real conference. This is were you really have time to talk and learn to know new people. Year by year it gets more. At 1:30 AM I finally got to my room.

Oh gosh, and this was just Tuesday! Wednesday would become even more intense, read about that in my next post. Our slides are available for download now.

 

 

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EclipseCon Europe 2017 – Part 1

Without any doubt this year EclipseCon Europe was the most intense one for me. So intense that I have to split my look back into several parts. I met lots of community members again, and gained more new connections than in past events. The work in advance to this EclipseCon Europe were exhausting. I had as always work for customers to do, prepare my talks and then we also had the release of Xtext 2.13 right before EclipseCon. Of course this ment much work, but we from the Xtext team were able to ship the release right on time on October 20th. I was doubting that I could stay long in the evenings at Nestor bar for talking with those great people. I was proofed to be wrong.

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I gave a preview to EclipseCon Europe in my previous post, and actually it quite matched what I experienced. But let’s start at the beginning.

My travel started on sunday noon, since I wanted to meet with the Eclipse Scout community for a pre-conference dinner at the Rossknecht restaurant & brewery. I was traveling by train to use the time for working on my talks. I had 2 talks at the main conference, 1 for the unconference and 2 ignite talks for our booth. More on that later.

I enjoyed meeting the Scout community members as always, especially with the project leads Matthias Zimmermann and Andreas Hoegger from BSI AG. Later that evening also the members from the Eclipse Foundation joined, and I was warmly welcomed by them.

On Monday I was there for the Unconference and joined the track Guided Tour on Eclipse Modeling, where a broad variation of overview talks were held on the various subprojects of the Eclipse Modeling Project. I especially enjoyed Ed Merk’s talk on the Eclipse Modeling Framework. Of course, everyone in the audience knew EMF, so Ed decided not to give a normal talk about it, but a Presentation Zen talk. For example, he explained us bug replication in EMF with a photo like this:

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Image courtesy of Christian Meyn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the afternoon I gave my first talk: An overview on the Xtend language, which I am maintaining and heavily use. Xtend is a full fledged programming language for the JVM, and makes Java development much sweeter.

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Every programming language has its strengths, and to explain where Xtend has its strengths I took a look back on where Xtend came from: It goes back to the openArchitectureWare project and its successor Eclipse Xpand and the languages it provided. The Eclipse project Xpand is a template language and thus used for code generation. In Xtend this resulted in the famous Template Expressions. Another less known feature are Create Extensions, which are essential to write Model-to-Model Transformations. In his great talk “Using the Xtend language for M2M transformation” Andreas Graf showed this application of Xtend for large scale transformations of models from the automotive sector.

After the Unconference I met the first colleagues at the Nestor bar for a beer. This was followed by a reception at the conference venue. More itemis colleagues joined and it was time to chat with some friends from the community. Especially I talked a bit more with Michael Keppler from ETAS, with whom I was also talking much during the conference.

Of course the evening was not over after the reception. This was the time to meet again at the Nestor bar, the place to be after long conference days. First we had dinner with all itemis colleagues that were there then.

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  • 1st line: Prajwal Gowda, Arshad Adavani, Bettina Zarnekow, me, Holger Schill
  • 2nd line: Hendrik Bünder, Alexander Nyßen, Darius Jockel, Olaf Gunkel, Christian Dietrich
  • 3rd line: Matthias Wienand, Marek Derdzinski, Michael Langhammer, Sebastian Zarnekow, Torsten Görk

A bit later also Patrik Suzzi, Platform UI committer and our new colleague at itemis Switzerland, arrived. I met Patrik at EclipseCon Toulouse this year and not long after he joined itemis. It was nice to see him again and talk about his current project at a well-known swiss bank.

At the bar later I spoke with many, many people. I especially enjoiyed to talk with Mickael Istria, who acknowledged my contributions to Eclipse Platform and encouraged me to continue. What I certainly will do. It was also the time to thank Dani Megert and Stephan Herrmann, who helped us to avoid a desaster for Xtext with our JDT integration for Eclipse Oxygen.1a. Instead of a problem it turned to be a success story about what it means to work together on professional open source projects at Eclipse.

There were so many other people I spoke to at this evening: Mike Milinkovich, Ralph Müller, Angelika Wittek, Mickael Barbero, Torkild Resheim, Tom Schindl and many more. It was just awesome.

And this was just until Monday, before the EclipseCon really started. On Monday I left the Nestor bar at 0:30 AM, we had to wake up early and I had to give my next talks on Tuesday. Time to get some sleep now.

Tomorrow I hope to write the second part of my look back and will upload my presentations. You can get all slides from me and the numerous from my other collegues here: bit.ly/2yNnIs9

Next stop: EclipseCon Europe 2017

As every year EclipseCon Europe is fixed in my schedule, and I am excited to go there. It is a melting pot for the Eclipse Community, a big family come together. I am in the last preparations before departure to Ludwigsburg, and can’t wait to finally go there.

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itemis is of course sponsoring EclipseCon Europe, and we will have a booth in front of the theater. With 12 talks, 8 speakers and about 20 attendees I am expecting that the it(emis)-Crowd is again the biggest party at EclipseCon Europe. The itemis booth will be the place where you will have the highest chance to meet me, but of course there is plenty of time to meet each other.

Meeting the Scout and Modeling community

As in the past years, I will start my journey already on sunday. I will again join the Eclipse Scout community’s pre-conference dinner at the Rossknecht. The past years I was joining on monday the Scout User Group meeting, but this year I committed to join the Guided Tour on Eclipse Modeling at the Unconference. At 14:40 I will give there my first talk, an insight on the Xtend language.

 

Xtext and Platform development

This Friday, Oct 20th, Xtext 2.13 was released finally and I have invested quite some time in the past months to find and resolve bugs. I have worked intensively with the Eclipse EARI system, and investigated together with Christian Dietrich the problem reports we are getting in. Until we now managed to get less problem reports in than we are processing. Christian and I are those who care most about user problems and we have fixed together the majority of bugs for this and the past releases. Christian does an incredible job! We will happily share insights on the current state on Xtext at the Unconference and all conference days.

The past months I starting getting involved into the Eclipse Platform itself. While before I completely focused on Xtext development and just used the platform, I thought it was time to give something back. I am using Eclipse every day and still love to work with it. I am recognizing that others prefer other IDEs, or even new ones are built, and there are reasons for that. But still for complex development tasks I believe that an extensible desktop IDE like Eclipse is the best tool. Eclipse has some flaws, and I could help there. Now I am frequently contributing to the Eclipse Platform (with focus on performance, usability and stability) and found into the development process, which took me some time. Because of this engagement I am expecting to have some interersting talks on platform development with some driving persons like Lars Vogel, Dani Megert, Alexander Kurtakov, Mickael Istria, Mikaël Barbero or Andrey Loskutov. I have to thank them for guiding me in the process and reviewing my changes carefully. Guys, I owe you a beer at the Nestor bar!

A conference day (almost) never ends

Nestor bar, the place to be after the long conference day! You will find me there each evening from monday on till late. Like every year it will be hard to celebrate long and get up early. But be sure, I’ll manage that. It isn’t the first time, and won’t be the last. The party ain’t over until it’s over.

I’m not staying at Nestor; like last year I reserved early a room at the nearby Villa Forêt. It is just a 5 minute walk (and some walking does not harm) and fine for me. It was in this hotel where I met Philip Wenig some years ago at breakfast. Ever since then I had nice talks with him and I always enjoy that. This year I already met him twice: At the Eclipse DemoCamp in Zurich, and at Eclipse Hackathon Hamburg.

Talks at the main conference

This year, besides my Xtend talk at the Unconference, I will give 2 talks at EclipseCon:

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“Introduction to Expression Languages with Xtext” (Tuesday 14:30, Silchersaal) will give you some patterns in Xtext grammers when you need to embed expressions in your language. Xtext ships with Xbase, which is a full expression langauge that you can easily integrate, but sometimes Xbase is not the right choice for you. Xbase is tightly bound to the Java typesystem and JDT, and for your language this could be undesired. Then you have to build your own expression language, which is a bit advanced. But you can learn a lot from Xbase, and in this talk I will show some grammar patterns that you could take from Xbase. I already gave this talk at EclipseCon France this year, so most of the slides are fortunately prepared.

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Different for my second talk: “Advanced Oomph Setup Authoring” (Wednesday 12:00, Silchersaal). This is completely new, and I am right now working on the slide deck. I was responsible for developing Xtext’s Oomph setup, which is compared to other setups at Eclipse more complex. But I have learned much from the other setups. Again, there are some patterns that can be recognized among the different setups. I will show and explain screenshots from different setups and discuss some advantages or disadvantages from then. Oomph is a mighty framework, and creating good setups is a time consuming and error prone work. The information given in this talk should give some help to author more robust setups, and build them faster. Advanced Oomph users might recognize that they do already much right, but even they might get the one or other idea to enhance their setups. Users rather new with Oomph will get the most out of this talk. They should at least have a basic idea about Oomph project setups.

Lightning Talks at the itemis booth

This year we will give some 5-Minute Lightning Talks at our booth in pauses. We have a lot of interesting small talks this time, from Xtext to Java 9, and even where plastic plants play a role. Just come around to the exhibitor’s area in front of the theater and get some inspiration.

Also here I have 2 slots:

  • Tuesday 15:50: “What’s new in Eclipse Photon?”: Let me show you a sneak preview on some features coming in Photon. You will see some of my contributions and some other.What's New in Eclipse Photon.001.jpeg
  • Wednesday 15:20: “A committer’s view on Eclipse Automated Error Reporting”: As said before, AERI helped me a lot to improve Xtext and Eclipse Platform. I’ll show you what committers see from problems reported to it and how it can help to find bugs. Also, a big Thank You to the guys from Codetrails for the support!ACommittersViewOnEARI.001.jpeg

Follow @itemis on Twitter to get notice on further talks from us!

The most important thing at EclipseCon is…

the people! I love to meet all the people again, from which most of them I only see once a year. This year I have already attended Eclipse Converge/, DevoXX US and EclipseCon France, so some of you folks I have already met again. But EclipseCon Europe is by far larger and more intensive. To all the people I already know, from year to year they become more.

Eclipse on the roll

It is a pleasure to see which companies and projects joined the Eclipse Foundation recently. Since I have a background in Java Enterprise development from early beginnings (yes, I had to implement bean managed persistence with EJB 1.0 in the ancient days and it was NOT funny!), I was delighted to see EE4J at Eclipse. Then IBM’s J9, Deeplearning4J, and the story is not over yet. If this continues, the Eclipse Foundation has a bright future and I am glad that itemis is a driving part of the story.

For this year’s EclipseCon Europe some of this hot new stuff might come a bit too late, but I expect more talks related to these exciting technologies next year. Yes, there are already some talks, but I think the focus will shift from now on.

And finally: Time to rest

After EclipseCon I’m taking a week off. I need this already, and will desperately need this after this exciting and exhausting week. Back to my beloved family, who is awaiting me after a long week. Who knows, maybe my second daughter Sophia is walking then? Can’t be long anymore.

 

EclipseCon Europe 2016 – I’m coming!

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I’m sitting now in the train on my way to Ludwigsburg. For sure I cannot miss this great event, where so many smart people and friends come together. Although ECE is always at the same time of the year and I knew for long that I want to go there again, it comes not at the best time for me – or better: for my family. The reason is a really positive one: Almost 3 weeks ago on October 4th I became for the second time father of a lovely daughter, Sophia.

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I am missing her already deeply, and my wife would need some supporting hands at home right now. However she understands that EclipseCon is important for me and supports me. The past weeks I did not get much sleep, but the reason was mostly not Sophia, but mainly preparing my talks – in the late evening and night it was most suitable. I will definitely enjoy EclipseCon, but this year I will also be happy when I can leave towards home again and will take 3 days off afterwards for regeneration and caring for the family.

This year’s EclipseCon will be fully packed for me. Today, on Sunday, it will start with a small pre-conference event at the Rossknecht, where the Eclipse Scout community comes together. Tomorrow at the Unconference day I will attend the Eclipse Scout User Day, which I attended the past two years already. At the moment I do not work with Scout, but I really enjoyed working with this framework in the past and would like to do another project with it again. The recent year Scout has much evolved, and I am keen to learn all the news.

On tuesday the Xtext developers plan to schedule a BoF Session. A beta of Xtext 2.11 was released this week, and we have to work much now to make the 2.11 release round. I plan to invest quite some time on this, and we have to talk about the concrete tasks and collaboration. Since we are now a team spanning several companies, it is important to have the chance to get the whole team together at EclipseCon.

On wednesday it is time for action. I was recently contacted that the proposal for the session “Recipes to build Code Generators for Non-Xtext Models with Xtend” got picked from the waiting list. I will perform the talk with my colleague and friend Holger Schill.

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We give this talk because Xtend is a very nice language when it comes to developing template based code generators, but is mostly only used in the context of Xtext. Xtext projects seamlessly integrate a generator infrastructure with Xtend, but it is not that common to use Xtend based generators with models that are not Xtext DSL files. We will show how simple it can be to integrate Xtend for other use cases, e.g. with JSON as input.

After that talk we will participate at the Modeling Symposium (17:45 Theater Stage). There we will shortly (7 minutes slot only) present a generator fragment that creates an extension package for VisualStudio Code to embed support for a DSL with an embedded language server. The Language Server Protocol support is the main feature for Xtext 2.11. We plan to contribute the created generator fragment to the Xtext project.

On thursday it is time for my talk “From stairway to heaven onto the highway to hell with Xtext” (11:00 Theater Stage). In this talk I will explain why I love Xtext and why it is used successfully in so many projects first, but then discuss where users have or run into trouble when using the framework. We see in many projects that first steps are easily done and don’t require much experience, but as requirements grow the complexity of DSL projects also grow and extensive experience with details of Xtext and the technologies behind is crucial. I hopefully compiled an informative set of issues.

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EclipseCon 2011 warmup

EclipseCon is just about to start and I am glad that I can make it this year. I have the chance to present Project Spray on thursday (Nov 3rd, 11:30 AM Bürgersaal 2) together with Jos Warmer. Spray aims to provide tooling to facilitate the creation of visual editors based on the Graphiti framework by the use of Xtext based DSL and Xtend code generator. You can basically compare it with what GMF Tools does for GMF, just with a DSL based approach.

EclipseCon Europe 2011

The project was founded at this year’s Code Generation conference, and Jos contributed an initial state of Spray derived from a customer’s project back in August. Since then the project team refactored the code base quite a bit. We are still in an early project phase. Most of the development is done in spare time yet, like Open Source projects often start. That was quite tough besides my full packed work schedule. Many hours on train or evenings in the hotel were spent to push this project.

At the moment I am just about to release version 0.3.0 of the Spray SDK, which I will use for our demo on thursday. Of course we want to gain a large audience. I am honest enough to say that attendees won’t see a production ready tool yet, but of course it is in working state. Jan announced a pie fight for visual tooling, I am ready to open my mouth wide enough to catch the incoming pies.

For our session we don’t want to start any discussion on graphical editing vs. visualization, whether GMF is better than Graphiti, or DSL / code generation vs. framework approach. There is always a niche for everything, and we are confident that Spray fills one of these gaps.

Besides what an end user actually can do with Spray at this moment there are quite some hidden gems in the project. I am using Spray to have also a non-trivial example for Eclipse Modeling tooling. You will find, for example

At EclipseCon I will take the chance to exchange with some experts in the fields of Modeling, especially Xtext and Graphiti. I will lay another focus on Build systems, especially Maven. Besides that there are many other interesting talks, far more than I can attend. And not to forget to meet all the other Eclipse enthusiasts. See you there!