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!

Spray – a quick way to create Graphiti

Last week was the CodeGeneration 2011 conference in Cambridge/UK, the melting pot for model driven development. It was once again a great conference, even bigger and more inspiring than the recent years. You will find some good summaries of the conference and the Language Workbench Competition workshop in the blogs from Angelo Hulshout, Johan den Haan and Marco Brambini.

At this conference I had an experience report talk together with Bernhard Merkle from Sick (“Graphiti + Xtext: mixing graphical and textual DSLs for sprayers/designers“) on wednesday, where we discussed the integration of Xtext and Graphiti for combining textual and visual DSLs. It is also obvious for us that although Graphiti – more maybe because – has a quite good API the work to actually create Graphiti based editors is repetitive and thus a candidate for code generation and a more abstract description by a DSL. On thursday Marko Boger, former grounder of Gentleware and now professor at the University of Konstanz, showed how they developed exactly such tooling (i.e. textual DSLs with Xtext and code generators with Xpand) to create visual modeling tools. In fact, the newest version of Poseidon for UML was created that way and with the developed tooling visual DSLs can be developed very fast. However, they generate against their own Poseidon runtime and wish to change that to Graphiti in the future. Right after that session, Jos Warmer showed in his talk “Developing an Insurance Product Modeling Workbench” that he already did that for his current customer. Means, he has developed a DSL with Xtext and code generators with Xpand that create Graphiti editors.

There was obviously high interest in this approach, thus we scheduled a Birds-of-a-feather session for thursday evening in the Castle Inn Pub nearby to discuss model-driven development of Graphiti DSLs. About 20 persons crowded the far to small table, and we had a lively discussion.

As a result we decided to join our efforts in an Open Source project. Jos named his DSL “Spray” and I think this is a perfectly fitting name for the project. Further we decided to host that project at Eclipselabs, since parts of it will be potentially contributed to Graphiti or its umbrella project, the Graphical Modeling Project.

The BoF session thus was the birth of project “Spray“. Right after the BoF session was the conference dinner, and I founded the project on my iPhone while waiting for entrance. Maybe this is the first Eclipse related project founded with the iPhone? Jos subtitled it with “a quick way to create Graphiti”, which again perfectly describes what the project will be about. He already uploaded an overview of Spray (extracted from his CG2011 presentation) , and its implementation will be soon contributed as a first version of Spray. We contacted the Graphiti team about our idea and got positive feedback and even one developer who wants to contribute to the project. Also the internal feedback at itemis showed that the project may find some volunteers here.

The overwhealming high interest in contributing to this project is of course good, but now the project must challenge to actually find a concrete vision. Jos’ contribution will be a good start for that, and the experience and requirements of the other interested parties will hopefully be constructive and shape the project. This is a great chance to create something really useful together with real experts on every needed skill. I hope to find enough time myself to contribute and maybe even customers who have a concrete need for it, so that we can provide a working solution in the near future.

Project Spray:

Eclipse DemoCamp Dortmund – June 8th at FZW

During June and July 2010 there will be again Eclipse DemoCamps all over the world to celebrate the upcoming Eclipse Helios release end of June and e4 release and of July. DemoCamps are a great opportunity to see the latest and coolest new features live from the top experts in their field. Often the speakers are themselves committers on the projects and technologies they present. Also most attendees are Eclipse enthusiasts or use Eclipse technology for mission critical projects in their companies.

And to make it even better – these events are for free! All you have to do is take some time, come and enjoy!

I started now to organize the Eclipse DemoCamp in Dortmund. The Eclipse Foundation is sponsoring these events, but only 5 per country. In Germany there is such a huge interest in these events that these 5 sponsored DemoCamps were already registered when I entered the Dortmund DemoCamp – and this was just hours after announcement! Fortunately this DemoCamp will take place anyway, since itemis , who are Strategic Member of the Eclipse Foundation,  is willing to sponsor it.

This week we contracted the room, so finally location and date of this event is known and further planning can continue. The Eclipse DemoCamp in Dortmund will take place on June 8th 18:00-21:30 at the new FZW. The FZW is a well-known location for events and concerts and recently re-opened near to the “Dortmunder U” of the former Dortmunder Union Brewery.

Join the DemoCamp!

The Eclipse DemoCamp Dortmund is an open event. The only requirement for attending the event is registering on the Event Wiki page. To register you will need an account for the Eclipse Bugzilla System or contact me if I should add you to the attendees list.

Currently I am also searching for speakers. If you like to demonstrate what amazing stuff you are doing with Eclipse then go ahead. Just enter your name and the title of your presentation on the Wiki page. It could be anything which is related to Eclipse. Best of course would be demonstrations of features that come up with Helios or of some incubation projects. Each presentation should be no longer than 20 minutes. I’m especially interested in presentations about e4, XtextRAP, SMILA, b3, Cloud Development Toolkit, Sphinx, redview, Teneo, Equinox/OSGi, (E)Git, Graphiti, to name just of few of exciting Eclipse or technologies or Eclipse based products.

DemoCamps are a rather informal event. Besides the presentations there will be enough time to talk with the people there, do networking and drink a beer together. DemoCamps are fun and of high information value.

Don’t miss it and join it now!

Spread the word!

Eclipse DemoCamps are interesting for all users and devlopers of Eclipse. Talk with your colleagues and friends and make them aware about the Eclipse DemoCamp series around the world. There are lot of events planned and sure some more that are scheduled later. Of course, if you are coming from the Ruhrgebiet or somewhere around Dortmund you are welcome to join there. Hope to meet you there!

Sponsors welcome!

The event is at the moment sponsored by itemis, but it is not restricted to. Also your company can be a sponsor for this event. Your company will be mentioned on the Event wiki, mentioned in the opening talk and you are allowed to distribute marketing material. A better opportunity to present yourself as Eclipse experts for a reasonable price your company won’t find! Contact me if this is interesting for your company.