Monday, November 24, 2008

Eclipse Summit Europe 2008, Retrospect

This was my first Eclipse event so I was very excited. Unfortunately, my proposal about GEF3D was rejected. But anyway, it was a lot of fun! Here are some thoughts about some talks. Quentin Glineur (Obeo) talked about model-to-model transformations with ATL and QVT. Quentin listed several use cases for m2m-transformations: validation, refactoring, reexpression and consistency checking. He is currently implementing an engine for Declarative QVT based on the ATL virtual machine. Later I had a long discussion with him about model transformations. I'm really exited about his QVT implementation, which will be available at Jan Köhnlein, Peter Friese, and Sven Efftige (itemis) presented xText. Since I'm fighting (but don't get me wrong: xText is a super cool tool) with xText for a couple of weeks to get my own transformation language working, I was happy to hear thet the upcoming version of xText will solve a lot of problems, such as easier implementation of expressions or mixing of languages and grammars (I could use that for including OCL). I had lunch with Sven and it seems as if every little problem (or bug) will be solved in the next version of xText, it's a pitty that I have to finish my project before it will be released (feature freeze will be in March 2009, it will be part of Galileo). Since I have heard so much about Jazz I was especially interested in the talk by André Weinand (IBM). For me Jazz looks pretty much like a tool set for Scrum, but this could be a misinterpretation by a Scrum master (like the guy with the hammer for whom anything looks like a nail). I'm still a little bit confused whether Jazz is freely available or not. But it looks definitely impressing and I'd like to work with it. For example, it introduces certain "isolation levels", for example a (personal) repository workspace. That is each developer has his own individual repository for backup and so on, and there will be a separated project repository. Thinking about that I'm wondering how I will work with my code when it has been moved to the Eclipse repository... A while ago I posted a master thesis proposal about visualizing model differences using EMF Compare and GEF3D. Unfortunately, no student has shown interest in this thing. Nevertheless it was very interesting listening to Cédric Brun (Obeo) about EMF Compare. While seeing his slides I was thinking about new cool visualizations, for example an Apple Time Machine like view of different model versions in a repository. One of the highlights was Ed Merks' talk about "The Unbearable Stupidity of Modeling". While I agree with most of his statements, for example the exaggerated use of the prefix "meta", I noticed (again) this little difference between the american and european conception of "model" and related terms such as "abstraction". I have to work out that thing in my thesis ;-). Maybe it's because the great book on model theory by Herber Stachowiak was never translated into English... For people using the word "meta" too much, and thus maybe suffer under some kind of modeling fever (my adviser once diagnosed me with "Modellithis"), I can recommend the very funny article "UML Fever" by Alex E. Bell, or (in severe cases) you may consider joining the Meta-Modellers Anonymous. Or simply read Ed's blog regularly. Scott Lewis and Marcelo Mayworm's talk about ECF (the Eclipse Communication Framework) was quite nice, they showed a small video about two pair programmers editing a single piece of source code using ECF. It's very similar to my beloved editor SubEthaEdit. I'm wondering whether it would be possible to integrate ECD ad GEF3D somehow? David Sciamma (Anyware Technologies) presented the new and upcoming features of the Ecore tools, that is the Ecore diagram editor. Version 0.9 will be part of Galileo. Kristian Duske is currently working on a 3D port of these tools, so it would be nice to keep contact with the 2D developers. To be honest I didn't knew David is also developing these Ecore tools, I "only" knew him as the author of the TopCased UML editor. So it would be the second work of David which will be ported to 3D, since his TopCased UML editor is the one I'm using in all my transformation chain examples (thinking about that I'm reminded to update my 3D version to the latest TopCased UML 2 version, I hope that will be as quickly done as the previous version, that is within two days ;-) ). Having all that trouble with licenses and third party libraries in the context of the review of LWJGL and JOGL (and even my initial GEF3D contribution), I was very curious aboutJanet Campbell's talk about "IP for Eclipse Committers". IP is short for "intellectual property" and this talk was especially about the "due diligence". That is (for people not that familiar with the Eclipse Process) there are a bunch of rules to be followed before code can be committed to Eclipse (i.e. some Eclipse CVS or SVN). IMHO this is an outstanding quality of Eclipse to be very concerned about these issues, even if I have a lot of trouble because of that (LWJGL was not approved, and JOGL is only to be approved because SGI has changed its free license agreements two months ago). So, a big thank you to all that people doing these legal reviews and stuff! It was a really great experience to meet all that people I knew only from their email addresses, and especially people I was mailing with so much for the last couple of weeks because of GEF3D: Chris Aniszczyk, Ed Merks and Anne Jacko. It's a really great community, and I'm happy to be a part of it :-)