Portable Editor Services

Daniƫl Pelsmaeker

Date: Thu, May 03, 2018
Time: 14:00
Room: Snijderszaal LB 01.010 (building 36)
Note: This is a MSc thesis defense

Implementing the syntax and semantics of a new (domain-specific) programming language is a lot of work, which is worsened by the additional work needed to add support for the language to an editor such as Eclipse or VS Code. Lack of such support can impede language usability and adoption, as developers prefer different editors. However, supporting M editors for N languages requires M * N implementations to be built and maintained, which is known as the IDE portability problem. Portable editor services aim to reduce this to M + N implementations, which leads to the main question of this thesis: how can we make the editor services of languages portable across editors?

Language definitions made in the Spoofax language workbench can automatically expose their editor services in any editor that Spoofax supports. Therefore, we evaluate the portability of Spoofax Core, the editor-agnostic core of Spoofax, through an implementation of the workbench in the IntelliJ editor.

To get portability for editor services of languages in general, we first investigate how editor services can be added to the most popular editors, and explore their features, documentation, and API. From this, we derive a platform-agnostic model for portable editor services: AESI, the Adaptable Editor Services Interface. AESI describes the maximum set of common editor service features supported by the editors we investigated, while at the same time imposing minimal requirements upon any implementation of these editor services.

We evaluate AESI by providing two language implementations, and adapting AESI to Eclipse, IntelliJ, and VS Code. Finally, we compare AESI with two other solutions to the IDE portability problem: LSP and Monto.

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