Announcing Handly 0.3 Release

by Vladimir Piskarev

It is with great pleasure that I announce the on-time availability of the Handly 0.3 release, symbolically coinciding with Eclipse Mars. This release includes major new features, such as an outline framework, integration with text editors (in addition to preexisting integration with Xtext editor), a real-world exemplary implementation (a simplified Java model), and a number of API enhacements. This release is primarily focused on bringing more value to early adopters while further evaluating the Handly core framework.

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Handly is a relatively new project at Eclipse started with an initial contribution from 1C. In brief, it can be described as a framework for handle-based models — with an emphasis on code models that render Eclipse workspace from a programming language angle.

Because the rest of the IDE usually depends on the code model, the quality of the design and implementation of that model is of the utmost importance. Traditionally, such models were built either entirely from scratch or by forking and modifying preexisting models. The traditional process required much effort, was tedious and error-prone. The resulting models were effectively silos with a completely isolated API, which prevented a possibility of developing reusable IDE components, although the models did seem to have certain traits in common.

The Handly project begs to differ with the traditional approach. It provides a set of flexible building blocks that help developers create handle-based models similar in design principles to the JDT Java model. The framework imposes almost no restrictions on the shape of the models or on the languages modeled. The uniform API makes it possible to develop generic IDE components dealing with such models — some common UI components are already provided by Handly. The intent is to come up with a really nice design in this problem area through an open and transparent development process primarily driven by community feedback. For more information, please visit the project’s website.

Despite the “incubating technology” status of Handly, there already are three known major adopters (in chronological order): 1C:Enterprise Development Tools, erlide (in yet-to-be-released version 0.30), and Codasip Studio — two commercial products and an esteemed open-source IDE. We are very grateful for their vote of confidence to the project, active participation and valuable feedback. With this release, we hope to encourage further adoption and receive broader feedback.

Some design discussions with early adopters are already taking place on the project’s forum, but also (as it stands, chiefly) on the handly-dev mailing list, with potentially even more interesting discussions soon to follow.

So if you are interested in this project and would like to have a say in it, I encourage you to engage as early as possible by playing around with this release and giving feedback.

Thank you!

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