Thursday, April 03, 2008

New stuff coming for Groovy Monkey

I know I have been negligent over the past few months about keeping up with new features to groovy monkey. I also know and appreciate the fact that there are those of you out there who use the tool *in anger* so to speak. First off all you should know that the project is not *dead* in any real sense. Secondly, I make use of the tool daily and have been making some commits to enhance groovy monkey. Third, I saw some cool stuff out of EclipseCon that I would like to integrate into Groovy Monkey.

On the first point, after going to EclipseCon and seeing that there was very little activity with Eclipse Monkey along with the fact that it still has the same weaknesses that led me to write Groovy Monkey in the first place, has rekindled my interest in writing new features for the plugin. I mean, Eclipse Monkey still runs everything in the UI thread, what is up with that?

On the second point, I have written a tool to allow me to automatically publish a new version to the update site, so you should be seeing more regular changes to the plugin. Now if I only had a nice script to automate publishing new releases as well.

On the third and final point, at EclipseCon I saw a couple of things that I would love to integrate with Groovy Monkey. First something called glimmer and second something called Plugin spy.

First off I was introduced to something called Glimmer by Andy Maleh. The reason that this project is of note is that I do not want to forget those people who want to use that language Ruby. Glimmer is a cool utility that is in effect a SWT/JFace builder. In fact, it is a far cooler builder than the one we have available from Groovy. I look forward to trying this and to updating the jruby libraries in Groovy Monkey.

Second is Chris Aniszczyk's new tool called Plugin spy. It is due to come out with Eclipse 3.4 (you can try it out now in version 3.4M5) and it is soooo cool. Actually I saw the tool earlier when he demonstrated it at the Eclipse Demo camp in Austin last December, but the epiphany came at EclipseCon. There is a killer feature, where you select a ui element in the workbench, hit ALT-shift-F1 and it will show a dialog with the class that represents that element, plus any additional information like extension points, etc... It is killer if you have ever tried to write a plugin extending the workbench you know that oftentimes over half the battle is just finding something. This tool can point you straight at what you want to see. So you say, where does Groovy Monkey come in and what about this life-changing epiphany? (Its so cool now that I know how to spell epiphany now.) The idea is if we could get an extension point into the Plugin spy so that Groovy Monkey could add a link and then be invoked with the information in that dialog it could be used to create a script. Why would that be cool? Imagine for a second that you are looking around the workbench and then want to see what is implementing a given feature, you use the plugin spy to see what is doing it. Well that is great, but how about trying it out? You would need to create groovy script, remembering all the details like the bundle, class name, etc... What if you could click the link in the plugin spy dialog and then use that information to create a template script? It would save alot of clicks and hassle, now that would be cool.