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From Maxim Kizub <>
Subject IDE with non-xml syntax for ant
Date Tue, 24 Mar 2009 09:42:01 GMT

I'm an author of SymADE project ( Basically
it's a development environment like IP (Intentional Programming - and MPS (Meta Programming System -
If you heard nothing about such IDEs, here's a short description. In
SymADE/MPS/IP the program's code is not text, but (AST or CST) tree.
These environments allow to create new meanings ('intentions',
'concepts'), like those we have in programming languages (like
concepts of 'class', 'variable', 'expression', 'function' and so on),
and then programs are written in these meanings/concepts. The IDE also
allows to specify 'syntax' for these meanings, but it's not a textual
syntax, but rather a way to render/display/edit these meanings. Using
this 'syntax' the IDE creates a structured editor for the program. In
this way you get a DSL (domain-specific language) or eDSL (embedded
DSL, or an extension to existing language) fully integrated into IDE,
with all those auto-completion, verification, background compilation,
and refactoring support. So, you'll have something as expressional as
XML, but with beauty 'syntax' and IDE integration.

My IDE (SymADE) is in alpha stage yet, but already powerful enough to
deal with DSLs that need minimal compilation, which are used mainly
for conficuration perposes. Like Ant.
So, I have an idea to write the Ant IDE using SymADE.
And here are my questions to Ant's community and developers.

1. What do you think about the idea of writing such Ant IDE? Creation
of DSL support in SymADE will be very fast (maybe a week or two), but
since the SymADE is itself in alpha stage, the IDE release may take a
few months.
2. If you'll find it convenient enough - will you distribute it
together with Ant? My primary interests are to make a full-featured
usage example, and to attract developer's attention to the SymADE
3. Do you have 'syntax' (visual representation) preferences? You can
use virtually any kind of rendering, with different fonts, colors,
text and images layout, folding, etc. You, probably, did discussed
alternative syntaxes for Ant (since XML is not the easiest to read and
4. I have rather little knowledge about Ant's internals. Can you give
me a reference to internal structure description and a full list of
concepts used in Ant (tasks, conditions, filesets and so on).
5. Will I be able to retrieve constraints about attributes (like 'you
can specify either FILE or DIR attribute, but not both'), and list of
attributes (and their types) from tasks (.class files, from Ant API or
somewhere else)? Or I will have to encode them manually for each task

  Maxim Kizub

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