26 March 2009

Book: The Ascent of Humanity (Charles Einsenstein)

I just found this book, which I find very interesting. It can be read online at http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/, but is available as a real book too.

I won't spoil the read, but will only say it really got me thinking and I'm not yet even half way through it. The facts are not new, but are put together perfectly to illuminate the point, which is... Well, you read about it! :-)

12 March 2009

erlIDE internals: What is a backend?

The term "backend" is used often in erlIDE, but it might be unclear what it really means.

What we call a backend is an Erlang runtime that we're connected to via an internal Java node. This connection requires some erlIDE code to be installed and running on the Erlang side.

There are two kinds of backends: managed and standalone. Managed ones have their lifecycle controlled by erlIDE. Standalone ones use already started runtimes.

Inside erlIDE, backends are used for several purposes:
  • for the IDE internals: scanning, parsing, etc. This is always a managed backend.
  • for compiling code
  • for running and debugging the applications
There are several reasons for having them separated. One is to isolate functionality (especially in early erlIDE varsions, it was easy to have the IDE hang for some crash in the builder, or the other way around). Another is that one might want to run the IDE on the latest and greatest Erlang version, but compile the project for some older version, while still testing it on all newer versions available.

09 March 2009

erlIDE internals: Introduction

I think it would be interesting to describe some of the internal workings of erlIDE. There is no better way to clear up one's thoughts that trying to explain them to someone else. Besides, once there will be readers, I'm sure there will be many good suggestions!

So, let's begin top-down.

erlIDE is comprised of several parts:
  • jinterface: we extended the OTP library with some things we needed, like generating Erlang terms from string descriptions (sprintf-like) and simple pattern matching.
  • the core: contains the management of Erlang runtimes and the model of the Erlang code. It includes services for scanning, parsing, compiling and evaluating Erlang code.
  • the UI: handles the editors, views, preferences and other Eclipse UI stuff.
We don't really want to write Java code, but since it's Eclipse we're talking about, there is little choice about that. But we can minimize the amount of Java by using Erlang as backend for our operations. So the main architectural vision is to let the Java part be only an adapter layer and implement in Erlang the core functionality. This will work well for the core functionality, but will be much more difficult for the UI parts.

Okay, this is a beginning. More to come later, stay tuned!

Erlide 0.5.1 (unstable)

This is the first release targeting Eclipse 3.4.

The big news is that we are now including experimental Wrangler refactoring support! György Orosz has put together the required Eclipse scaffolding and we will appreciate all the feedback we can get.

Otherwise, there are some bugs that have been fixed, see the ChangeLog for details.

/Vlad, Jakob and György

Erlide 0.5.0 (stable) released!

We have been working hard to fix bugs and add new functionality and today we are proud to be able to release version 0.5.0! Now you can do your Erlang development with less hassle, and the fun part is that there's a lot more to come in the pipeline.

The Eclipse update site is at http://erlide.org/update or http://erlide.sourceforge.net/update

For those that have been using out unstable releases, there are only few new things. For the others, a list of some of the new things can be found in the ChangeLog.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the last release that targets Eclipse 3.3. The answers (or more exactly, lack of) to our previous questions about which versions we should target tell us that everybody is running 3.4 or newer. If you're still stuck with 3.3 and will need continued support, please contact us.


/Vlad and Jakob