Accelerating the Creation of Customized, Language-Specific IDEs in Eclipse

Philippe Charles, Robert M. Fuhrer, Stanley M. Sutton Jr., Evelyn Duesterwald, Jurgen J. Vinju. Accelerating the Creation of Customized, Language-Specific IDEs in Eclipse. In Shail Arora, Gary T. Leavens, editors, Proceedings of the 24th Annual ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications, OOPSLA 2009, October 25-29, 2009, Orlando, Florida, USA.. 2009.


Full-featured integrated development environments have become critical to the adoption of new programming languages. Key to the success of these IDEs is the provision of services tailored to the languages. However, modern IDEs are large and complex, and the cost of constructing one from scratch can be prohibitive. Generators that work from language specifications reduce costs but produce environments that do not fully reflect distinctive language characteristics. We believe that there is a practical middle ground between these extremes that can be effectively addressed by an open, semi-automated strategy to IDE development. This strategy is to reduce the burden of IDE development as much as possible, especially for internal IDE details, while opening opportunities for significant customizations to IDE services. To reduce the effort needed for customization we provide a combination of frameworks, templates, and generators. We demonstrate an extensible IDE architecture that embodies this strategy, and we show that this architecture can be used to produce customized IDEs, with a moderate amount of effort, for a variety of interesting languages.