February 12, 2008


Let me today write about a tool I have tried recently: VlDesk.

Compared to other research tools VlDesk outstands with a comprehensive website (including demos) and smooth installation procedure. The underlying formalism, eXtended Positional Grammars (XPG), is well-studied (see further reading) and allows for efficient parsing. In fact, the parser is generated using the well-known Yacc parser generator. All parts of this meta-CASE-tool are well-integrated. For instance, there is a graphical symbol editor and productions can also be defined in a visual way. One can easily switch between the perspectives for language design (Visual Grammar Environment) and usage (Visual Programming Environment).

However, there are also some weak points. For instance, the system is only available for Windows systems. Further, some examples and particular features have not worked properly.

All in all, VlDesk is a system worth to try out, in particular after reading the papers listed below.

Further reading:

  • Building syntax-aware editors for visual languages, Costagliola, G., Deufemia, V., Polese, G., Risi, M., 2005, Journal of Visual Languages & Computing

  • Extended Positional Grammars, Costagliola, G., Polese, G., 2000, Proceedings of the 2000 IEEE International Symposium on Visual Languages

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