Architecture

I’ve done recently a lot of changes to the plugin structure, which I think could be called “architectural changes”. The goal is to separate the different concerns and make it easier to reason about them and test them in isolation.

At the moment we have three kinds of plugins:

  • libraries: just wrappers for third-party libraries. These are: libs, guava
  • core: a stack of plugins that have no eclipse dependencies except those needed to make them work as plugins, declaring and using extension points. These are: util, runtime and model, plus the kernel.* ones.
  • eclipse-based: plugins that match those in core, but have eclipse-based APIs: util_eclipse, backend, core, ui

The runtime/backend plugins handle starting and connecting to Erlang nodes, to be used either internally or to execute/debug the user’s code.

The model is where all the interesting stuff happens. It keeps track of the structure of projects and modules and will provide an API to ask questions about it. At the moment it is implemented in both Java and Erlang and this is what has caused many of our problems so far: the impedance mismatch makes it easy for errors to sneak in. Our plan is to evolve a one-language implementation with an independent API. Ideally we would like to be able to use either Java only (with Xtext) or Erlang only.

core will adapt the model API to use Eclipse concepts, like resources. Together with ui it will also implement the Eclipse hooks, commands and views necessary to make everything work. Ideally this part will be quite language-independent.