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CG2012 Summary, day 2

CG2012 Summary (part II)

After reviewing LWC2012 and CG2012 day 1, let’s continue with day 2.

Day 2, Thursday 29th

The morning started with the first keynote. Markus Völter led the session with the title “Domain-Specific Language Design – A conceptual framework for building good DSLs”.  Here Markus deep down with an ontology approach, reviewing the dimensions of DSL Design: covering nine topics: expressivity, coverage, semantics, separation of concerns, completeness, paradigms, modularity, concrete syntax & process. In the session, he focused mainly on expressivity, semantics, modularity and concrete syntax. I found specially interesting the dissection of types of language extension and composition providing detailed samples in each case. In summary, good and quality stuff as Markus used to deliver. As commented by Markus, this material will be published as a book “DSL Engineering” at the early 2013.

After the coffee break, I entered the Peter Friese’s tutorial on “Traditional and Model-Driven Approaches for Cross-Platform Mobile Development”. Peter demonstrated a very good knowledge of the mobility space presenting nor one or two alternatives but six (6) ways of developing cross-platform mobile applications considering pros and cons. Great talk covering native development (showing iPhone, Android and WP7), HTML5 and JavaScript frameworks like Sencha or jQueryMobile reviewing cross tools like phoneGap. It was a pity that the Wifi connectivity were failing and interrupted in some moments the flow of the demo, but Peter was able to overcome it and show what’s going on.

User Interfaces are always interesting to me so: Achim Demelt session’s was a must see session or me. “Mission: Impossible — Purely declarative User Interface Modeling”.

The session was very good. The slides are not enough, the accompanying demo shown the tool at work. Achim and his team created Silverlight based UIs using a Java back-end. The S4 environment presented is agile enough to model and generate UIs for the ERP domain Achim was targeting.

Next session for me was for the Jetbrains’s guys Maxim Mazin and Evgenii Schepotiev with the talk “Webr-DNQ — web application development with pleasure”.  They show the language extensions Jetbrains has designed over Java using MPS  to build in-house products like YouTrack. This is a very clear sample of the quote: eat your own dog food.

After a coffee, and back to action to a very different session: Steven Kelly lead the hands-on session titled “Have your language built while you wait”. Here some of us creating Language Workbenches where placed in a room with our laptops waiting for customers. During rounds of 25 minutes we were attending them showing the capabilities of each tool and solving a concrete and practical small problem proposed by the customer. 15 master craftsmen, representing 11 top language workbench tools, volunteered their time to build languages for participants’ domains. It was a very interesting format because it not only allows people to try new tools, but also to promote cross polinization between tool makers. From mi side I was there showing Essential and also have the chance to play a little with The Whole Platform with Riccardo Solmi and Enrico Persiani and take a closer look to Ensō with Alex Loh.

Steve prepared a good summary on this session (take a look for the details on each tools). I borrow here the video here :-).


So far, so good! Another day full of code generation, but the dessert was still missing.

This year CG2012 changed the relaxing punting trip on the river Cam in favor of a conference called “How Apollo we flew to the moon” by David Woods. The result: totally amazing! This guy presented us all a brief but detailed introduction to the Apollo systems and navigation procedures and then deep down on the specific problems on the Apollo XI, the mission where Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins engraved theirs names in the history.

Given the audience, David make special emphasis on the computer devices on board in the Apollo missions. Totally amazing the rudimentary technology used was good enough to fly to the moon and come back! Q&A delivered may geek questions about the Apollo mission that David responded with flying colors to impress even more the audience.

So I couldn’t resist, and bought my copy of his book and got it autographed by David (I was not the only one BTW). A good reading for sure, if you like space and/or engineering.

Summary: Language Workbenches Challenge 2012

LWC2012 logo

Two weeks ago, I honored the yearly tradition of traveling to Cambridge and join with my colleagues at the Code Generation Conference.

As commented before in this blog, this conference is something unique. It is not an academic oriented event: it has no papers and publications in the traditional way of an academic meeting. On the other hand, it shows live tools and samples of real technology in use in the industry and the latest research tools in the academia in the field of Software Modeling, Domain Specific Languages and Code Generation. If you want to meet and talk with the toolmakers this is definitely the place to come.

The event was intensively reported via twitter under the hashtags #cg2012 and #lwc2012.

In this first post I will review the LWC and write about CG2012 in the next one.


On Tuesday 27th, the 2nd edition of the Language Workbenches Challenge  took place. 32 of us meet there to see how 10 tools solved the Piping and Instrumentation problem. This year I was only an observer, no time from my side to prepare a solution, I hope to submit next year again.

Rui Curado presented his solution with AtomWeaver. He has added a graphical notation on the top of AtomWeaver in the late year. Great work.

Juha-Pekka Tolvanen shown a solution based in MetaEdit+. Based on the maturity of MetaEdit, the graphical nature of the problem and the experience of Juha-Pekka he excels his solution showing a use case of the system and later on going meta and showing us how it was done.

An UML solution was represented by Paul Zenden. Using Enterprise Architect as the base tool and complemented with Xtend/Xpand he was able to metamodel all the elements needed to describe the problem. He took advantage of the capabilities of the EA tool to add custom graphic symbols to the new symbols defined.

Tijs van der Storm presented a textual approach based on Rascal. Graphics were generated using an additional graphical library.

Alex Loh from Texas introduced us Ensō. Ensō is a new LW built on top of Ruby. Although a bit slow in its first version, it opens the doors a new way of LW taking advantage of the dynamic and interpretation capabilities of the Ruby language.

The Web is ubiquitous, and this issue is also reaching modeling concerns. Meinte Boersma in cooperation with Martin Thiede presented Más (Modeling As Service, más = means more in Spanish). Martin created and presented Concrete as a projectional editor based in Ruby and HTML5 in CG2011. Now Meinte has extended it to create a full web modeling environment targeting enterprise modeling.

Finally Marko Boger presented an implementation of the graphical language build using Spray. Spray is a project to provide textual DSLs to create graphical DSL on the top of Eclipse Graphitti.

Spray was conceived in the Castle Inn (our local CG reference pub) one year ago after a CG2011 session after people have the shared complaint about how painful and slow was to maintain GMF editors or to build them from scratch using Graphitti. Now one year later, Spray is a reality. Good job, very well done!

This edition was very diverse with respect a tools, approaches and solutions taken. Great workshop!

We ended the day with the traditional family photo. Special thanks to Angelo Hulshout for organizing it and Paul Zenden for proposing the challenge and the reference implementation (thanks Angelo for remember me it as it was).
See you next year!

LWC2012 family photo