July 24, 2009

MPS released

JetBrains just released version 1.0 of its Meta Programming System.

The screencasts provided by Markus Völter are very nice. They show how the Java base language can be extended by a lock abstraction, which is translated to some best practice lock code by the generator component afterwards. This seems to be a good example of growing a language as motivated by Guy L. Steele Jr.

I wonder whether multiparadigm programming could be supported that way more straightforwardly. So, one could not only generate imperative code from imperative abstractions, but one also could generate imperative code from an embedded functional program, right? Also it seems to be promising to integrate visual languages. That way, one could specify a method's body not only by Java code, but alternatively with, say, activity diagrams. However, currently only the creation of editors for textual and tabular representations seems to be supported.

All in all, MPS is a promising system, but regarding performance there seems to be plenty of potential for improvements (it took really long to load the simplest possible language for the first time, which raises the question how long it would take to load something real - on the other hand the system seems to be bootstrapped, which usually is an indicator of maturity). The language oriented programming approach as a whole of course is also heavily disputed, cf. this discussion.

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