PIMP your Eclipse: Building an IDE using IMP

Robert Fuhrer (Google Inc.)

Eclipse IDE And Languages - Tools · Tutorial - 4 hours
Monday, 13:30, 4 hours | Room 210

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So your favorite programming language has no Eclipse-based IDE. What to do? Spend months or years hacking on the Eclipse Java Development Toolkit (JDT) to make it understand your language? Spend months or years learning enough about the Eclipse platform to write your own from scratch? If you think neither alternative sounds too appealing, you’re not alone. The good news: you’re not out of options, either.

Enter IMP: the IDE Meta-tooling Platform, an Eclipse Technology project (http://www.eclipse.org/imp/). IMP facilitates the creation of language-specific IDEs in Eclipse. It simplifies and speeds the IDE development process through the combination of a language-independent runtime framework, automated generation of skeletons for language-specific service implementations, and support for the completion of service implementations by declarative specification or focused imperative programming. The IMP IDE development process is not a “big bang,” in which only after a lengthy development period does anything work properly (a problem that plagues those who attempt to repurpose existing IDEs that were not designed for reuse). Instead, the IMP process is both selective and iterative: it allows the IDE developer to select the features s/he wants, and it allows for the incremental customization of IDE services. Moreover, IMP-based IDEs aren’t the “lowest common denominator” - there’s ample opportunity to customize the look and feel of your IDE to suit your language and your purposes.

This tutorial will give participants an overview of IMP and take them through the hands-on development of a working Eclipse-based IDE for a simple (but nontrivial) programming language. The process will address language syntax definition; editor services such as token coloring, text folding, reference resolution, hover help, documentation providers, content assist, and hyper-linking; the outline view; a builder; preferences and preference pages; and text formatting (subject to time constraints). Time permitting, we may also take a brief look at the IMP framework architecture and runtime, for those who may be interested in contributing to the development of IMP itself. Participants will also use IMP-based IDEs for specification languages as part of the IDE development process.

Tutorial Prerequisites:

Not required: The basic structure of the tutorial:

Preparing for the Tutorial (Updated 21 March, 2009)

Please install a fresh copy of either Eclipse for RCP/Plugin-Developers 3.3.2 or Eclipse Classic 3.4.2, and install IMP into that from the IMP update site (http://download.eclipse.org/technology/imp/updates).
If you're using 3.4.2, please don't try to install anything else before or after IMP; we've been seeing some very strange behavior with Equinox/p2 on 3.4.* when installing features in multiple install/update sessions.
Robert is project lead for the IMP Eclipse Technology Project (http://www.eclipse.org/imp), whose aim is to greatly simplify and accelerate the IDE development process. Before starting that project, Robert spent several years developing static analyses and advanced refactorings for Java in Eclipse, some of which are part of the Eclipse JDT since version 3.1, including generics-related refactorings ("Infer Type Arguments" and "Introduce Type Parameter"), type-related refactorings ("Extract Interface" and "Generalize Type") and others (e.g. "Introduce Factory"). Robert is also currently working on refactoring for concurrent programs. He also developed a smell detection framework for Java in Eclipse, demoed at ECOOP and OOPSLA in 2004, which includes a code duplication detector. Prior to that, Robert worked on a diverse set of projects, including two visual programming languages, a film scoring system, manufacturing optimization algorithms, and hardware synthesis and verification for asynchronous circuits. When not writing code or papers, Robert spends his spare time playing jazz, fusion and progressive rock in his home studio.

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