mercredi 25 mars 2009

Modeling your EclipseCon

EclipseCon has been going on for a few days now, and I'm quite happy to say this year's event is great, especially concerning the social interactions. I've been coming here in Santa Clara for a few years now and I had the pleasure to meet, in real life, many of the Eclipse commiters and contributors. That's why going back there now also mean seeing friendly people again and having great time with them.

It started with the AC meeting on Sunday, which Martin perfectly handled (as usual). It's really nice, for a newcomer in these councils like me, to see that things are going on, and that people are pushing stuffs to make it real ! So please, do not hesitate to ask the AC !

It continued with the tutorials which really helps newcomers to adopt and understand our technologies. That was the occasion to meet many new people which is kind of a refreshing thing :)

From the Modeling perspective, this years also opens a lot of opportunities, despite the fact that our benevolent dicator is not with us right now, our community is really active and pragmatically tackles real world problems. The modeling BOF was a good example of that, and may be even a bit too much. We have not been able to have a really controversial debate as usual, I guess people keep that kind of stuffs for the numerous e4 events during EclipseCon !

One of the BOF result you'll soon experiment is that more "business cases" of successful usage of the modeling technologies will be advertised. Basically everybody in the BOF had at least one successful customer story to tell and that kind of feedback could be valuable for the community as a whole.

Speaking about pragmatic implementations and success, my talk about EMF Compare went really well, the room was filled with people already using, or interested in using modeling ! The corresponding slides are (at last) here :

unfortunately the demo links have been lost during the slides upload, you can watch the talk demos :
Metamodel agnostic diff/merge supporting multiple ressources
Platform Team API integration (CVS, SVN and GIT)
Graphical modelers integration (draft)
EPatch feature

Extensible diff model export

Among the interesting questions I had at the end one was : "Can EMF Compare is not able to compare a 50Mb model ? I tried and it crashed" - well, that's right, no doubt there is room for optimisation in the generic match engine used by EMF Compare, but comparing two versions of a whole huge model seems quite inappropriate most of the time, that's basically the same thing as if you would like to compare your C: drive with your D: drive, what's the point ?
EMF Compare 0.9 (soon to be 1.0) now supports model fragments, just split your models !
hat said, some of the use case for such a model (and even way bigger) stays valid and that's why I launched the GSOC idea about "comparing huge models" - by huge I mean millions of elements or more. That requires a very different algorithm, and specific handling of the "runtime data" needed to compare the models. Interesting subject indeed !

The good news is that seems like this subject is interesting students, great ! go ahead ! and provide a great application !

Another proof that pragmatism with modeling helps , Acceleo won the "
Best Open Source Eclipse-Based Developer Tool" , I'm really sorry not being able to get my pictures from my camera right now because it contains a proof that girls can't
resist on a kiss from a french guy, just imagine the picture with Jonathan and Lynn ;) . We've got an high standard to keep !

Stay tuned as EclipseCon is not over, I'll come back with even more event reports and "imaginary pictures"

mardi 10 mars 2009

Eclipse Modeling Summer of Code 2009

Yes, summer is coming fast, and if you're a student interested in software development and engineering, Eclipse is a great place for a Summer of Code !

New ideas are still appearing on the wiki page and no doubt you'll get many more in a few weeks. Let me highlight some of the cool subjects you might apply for if you're interested in modeling.

Let's speak about EMF Compare, we tried to focus on cool stuffs as that's what open source is about.

First, the 3D visualization ! Using EMF Compare, the GMF Diagram support and GEF 3D, one can imagine to get a nice "time machine like" visualization of the model differences. One can easily imagine really nice representation using that third dimension, we have to display two (or three) versions of a diagram annotating the diagram elements with graphical hints saying "that's a new element", or "this one has been changed", so 3D can make sense here.

Second : huge models comparison , by huge we mean really huge like millions of elements. EMF Compare uses an heuristic-based algorithm to compare two models, while doing so its keeping processing data in memory (more important the models are, the more memory is used). The subject is two folds : first design and implements a MatchEngine needing less stuffs in memory, then leverage Eclipse technologies like CDO or JCRManagement in order to break the memory bound ! That may seems trivial, but when you need to process a lot of data, many parameters are changing.

Third : improving the "Graphical Compare'" proof of concept initiated by Tobias (flash demo here) .

Many more ideas are available and looks really cool especially in the modeling area, so If you're a student, jump and meet the Eclipse Community !

mercredi 4 mars 2009

ShuangXi effect : UI testing and documentation

In my never-ending quest of ideas or tools to avoid doing boring stuff (that sacred goal explains my interest in pragmatic modeling), I made quite a victory today thanks to one of those gems you find in Eclipse.

Here I'm speaking about the help/tutorials you get in the Eclipse help menu.
We often add many many screenshots in the tutorial but this tiny litle idea of "showing stuff to the user" may have a huge cost ! The drawback of using such images in the help is that as the tool evolve the ui do so, and the tutorial screenshots are quickly really different from the real tool user interface.
Then you even have to recapture screenshots for at every release, or just decide that "a real doc has no screenshots"

Both are inadmissible, one idea would be to integrate this "screen capture" step in the build process and automatically capture the wizards, views or properties. Then, you would even be able to localize your documentation screenshots starting this process for every localization you have. You've got pretty much any thing you need, right now thanks to Eclipse, to do that.

The gem I mentioned is SWTBot , thanks to this litle tool I quickly managed to get a basic test scenario working to test UI. Even if testing is important, and testing UI is tricky, here my goal was to produce the screenshots from the tests, here is the code (it anybody knows how to highlight code with blogger...):

bot.view("Welcome").close();"Window").menu("Open Perspective").menu("Other...").click();
SWTBotShell openPerspectiveShell ="Open Perspective");

SWTBotShell newProjectShell ="New Project");
bot.tree().expandNode("Acceleo").getNode("Generator Project").select();

bot.button("Next >").click();


captureScreenshot("4-generator-project-done.png");"File").menu("New").menu("Empty Generator").click();
SWTBotShell newTemplateShell ="New");

That's the喜喜 (ShuangXi) effect, you roughly test your UI and you get your screenshots !

ps : special "Hi" to the unique Guangzhou visitor I had on this blog so far :)