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Abstract: JetBrains MPS is an integrated environment for language engineering. It allows language designers to define new programming languages, both general-purpose and domain-specific, either as standalone entities or as modular extensions of already existing ones. Since MPS leverages the concept of projectional editing, non-textual and non-parseable syntactic forms are possible, including tables or mathematical symbols. This tool paper introduces MPS and shows how its novel approach can be applied to Java development. Special attention will be paid to the ability to modularize and compose languages.

Citation:  PPPJ V. Pech, A. Shatalin, M. Voelter, PPPJ '13 Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Principles and Practices of Programming on the Java Platform: Virtual Machines, Languages, and Tools
Pages , Pages 165-168 

5. M. Voelter, D. Ratiu, B. Kolb, B. Schaetz, mbeddr

Instantiating a Language Workbench in the Embedded Systems Domain

Journal paper - PDF

Abstract: Tools can boost software developer productivity, but building custom tools is prohibitively expensive, especially for small organizations. For example, embedded programmers often have to use low-level C with limited IDE support, and integrated into an off-the-shelf tool chain in an ad-hoc way. To address these challenges, we have built mbeddr, an extensible language and IDE for embedded software development based on C. mbeddr is a large- scale instantiation of the Jetbrains MPS language workbench. Exploiting its capabilities for language modularization and composition, projectional editing and multi-stage transformation, mbeddr is an open and modular framework that lets third parties add extensions to C with minimal effort and without invasive changes. End users can combine extensions in programs as needed. To illustrate the approach, in this paper we discuss mbeddr's support for state machines, components, decision tables, requirements tracing, product line variability and program verification and outline their implementation. We also present our experience with building mbeddr, which shows that relying on language workbenches dramatically reduces the effort of building customized, modular and extensible languages and IDEs to the point where this is affordable by small organizations. Finally, we report on the experience of using mbeddr in a commercial project, which illustrates the benefits to end users.

Citation: M. Voelter, D. Ratiu, B. Kolb, B. Schaetz. mbeddr - Instantiating a Language Workbench in the Embedded Systems Domain. Journal of Automated Software Engineering, September 2013, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 339-390, 51 pages, 2013


mbeddr: an Extensible C-based Programming Language and IDE for Embedded Systems

Conference paper - PDF

Abstract: While the C programming language provides very good support for writing efficient, low-level code, it does not offer adequate means for defining higher-level abstractions relevant to embedded software. In this paper we present the mbeddr technology stack that supports extension of C with constructs adequate for embedded systems. In mbeddr, efficient low-level programs can be written using the well-known concepts from C. Higher-level domain-specific abstractions can be seamlessly integrated into C by means of modular language extension regarding syntax, type system, semantics and IDE. In the paper we show how language extension can address the challenges of embedded software development and report on our experience in building these extensions. We show that language workbenches deliver on the promise of significantly reducing the effort of language engineering and the construction of corresponding IDEs. mbeddr is built on top of the JetBrains MPS language workbench. Both MPS and mbeddr are open source software.

Citation: M. Voelter, D. Ratiu, B. Kolb, B. Schaetz. mbeddr: an Extensible C-based Programming Language and IDE for Embedded Systems. Proc. of the 3rd annual conference on Systems, programming, and applications: software for humanity (SPLASH), ACM, pp 121-140, 20 pages, 2013


MPS-based Domain-specific Languages for real time Java development

Diploma thesis - PDF

Abstract: The Real-time Specification of Java (RTSJ) is an intention to introduce Java as a language for developing real-time system. However, the complexity of their development and a non-trivial programming model of RTSJ with its manual memory management often lead to programming errors. To mitigate the development of RTSJ systems it would be beneficial to provide an internal domain-specific language (DSL) extending the Java language which would allow to develop the systems in more intuitive and safer way. However, it is needed to find compromise between solution’s power and level of usability, because this two attributes go often against each other. One possible way of DSLs creation concerns the Meta-Programming System (MPS). It allows to develop new domain- specific languages and corresponding projectional editors enabling different views on code. This thesis proposes a design and implementation of the DSL on the top of the MPS platform and corresponding code generator enabling development of RTSJ systems. Furthermore, the thesis provides a simple case-study to evaluate a proposed DSL. Additionally, the thesis assesses the suitability of MPS as a DSL-development platform.


Language and IDE Modularization and Composition with MPS

Conference paper - PDF

Abstract: JetBrains MPS is an Open Source language workbench. It uses projectional editing, which means that no parser is involved, and textual, tabular and graphical notations are handled with the same approach. As a consequence, it is an ideal language and IDE development environment. This tutorial has three parts: In part one, I will give a very short introduction to projectional editing. Part two provides examples of existing (modular) languages developed with MPS, showcasing the benefits of the tool and its possibilities. In part three, the longest one, I will show how to define languages in MPS, reusing/extending existing language modules. The tutorial will be mostly live demos; only part one will use a small number of slides.

Citation: 5. M. Voelter. Language and IDE Modularization and Composition with MPS. International Summer School on Generative and Transformational Techniques in Software Engineering, GTTSE 2011, LNCS 7680, pp 383-430, 47 pages, 2011


Product Line Engineering with Projectional Language Workbenches

Paper - PDF

Abstract: This paper investigates the application of domainspecific languages in product line engineering (PLE). We start by analyzing the limits of expressivity of feature models. Feature models correspond to context-free grammars without recursion, which prevents the expression of multiple instances and references. We then show how domain-specific languages (DSLs) can serve as a middle ground between feature modeling and programming. They can be used in cases where feature models are too limited, while keeping the separation between problem space and solution space provided by feature models. We then categorize useful combinations between configuration with feature model and construction with DSLs and provide an integration of DSLs into the conceptual framework of PLE. Finally we show how use of a consistent, unified formalism for models, code, and configuration can yield important benefits for managing variability and traceability. We illustrate the concepts with several examples from industrial case studies.


Embedded Software Development with Projectional Language Workbenches

Paper - PDF

Abstract: This paper describes a novel approach to embedded software development. Instead of using a combination of C code and modeling tools, we propose an approach where modeling and programming is unified using projectional language workbenches. These allow the incremental, domain-specific extension of C and a seamless integration between the various concerns of an embedded system. The paper does not propose specific extensions to C in the hope that everybody will use them; rather, the paper illustrates the benefits of domain specific extension using projectional editors. In the paper we describe the problems with the traditional approach to embedded software development and how the proposed approach can solve them. The main part of the paper describes our modular embedded language, a proof-of-concept implementation of the approach based on JetBrains MPS. We implemented a set of language extensions for embedded programming, such as state machines, tasks, type system extensions as well as a domain specific language (DSL) for robot control. The language modules are seamlessly integrated, leading to a very efficient way for implementing embedded software.