News on the effort to super easy language support addition to Eclipse editors

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Beginner

We at Eclipse Platform project decided that Eclipse should be providing basic support for most of programming languages out of the box, without needing any third party plugins. We also want to build in this functionality on the SDK level, so all the IDE flavors would have this by default.

What we are planning is basically a Notepad++ -style editor in Eclipse. For those unfamiliar with Notepad++, it's a very handy text editor with syntax highlighting for most programming and markup languages out there. It will take a guess at the language in which the file is written and open it with the corresponding syntax highlighting. The value in here is the sheer breadth of support meaning it's highly unlikely you'll find a not-supported language in your IDE, at least when we talk about basic support. Of course, if you want super full-blown support like JDT, the plugins are the best way. But we felt a quick and installation-free support is needed for Eclipse IDE.

We are planning to achieve this by providing a new bare editor extendable via extension points. So the smartness in reading multiple languages will be fed via extension points. This will make it very easy for people to add basic support for languages by removing the need to create a separate editor for each new language. Rather, it will smarten this single editor to 'sense' and provide some support for this or that language. This infrastructure will be built into the platform level, so it will be available relatively low in the stack. Furthermore, the decoupling offered by the extension points gives the opportunity to pull the syntax information from arbitrary services, be it hardcoded, some language server providing support remotely or any other source. That is up to the developers but the point is that it opens up lots of way to exploit this editor infrastructure.

For this presentation we already have a couple of proof of concepts to show, including auto complete, syntax highlighting and problem reporting. We will take a look at these and we will also do a demo of adding support for a simple language right there on the spot, in order to show the low-friction value of the approach. We are targeting this for release Oxygen so we are excited to have this shown to eclipse developers so we have as much interest and support as possible.

Eclipse is first and foremost an Integrated Development Environment. As such, the talk will show how we are trying to improve the development experience there as much as we can.

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