Friday, June 22, 2007

Equinox & ECF serving interactive fiction

After a couple of years of being lazy and procrastinating, I finally got Ziggy to the point where we now have it running live [Beta] :) at Idle Thumbs (thanks Spaff, Jake and others from Idle Thumbs for your help with this) . Ziggy is a server side application based on Equinox and ECF, it enables people to play interactive fiction games on web forums, acting as a bridge between the forum and an IF virtual machine.

At first it was just plain Java, a very simple app hacked together in only a few days, but has suffered many a rewrite since then and is now fully OSGified. I separated it into four main components: server, Interactive Fiction API & implementation, Bulletin Board API & implementation, management client -- all of these are now packaged as OSGi bundles and the client is an RCP application. The Bulletin Board API is open source and is also incubating at ECF (still needs some work before becoming part of a release). The Interactive Fiction API may also become open source at some point, and there are other interesting uses for it. For example another plug-in I developed allows playing these games inside an Eclipse console, which I hope to make available soon.

Thanks to taking advantage of ECF's communications container abstractions, Ziggy's potential is not actually limited to bulletin boards -- it was easy to add just a bit of code to make it work over instant messaging and IRC, but this aspect of it is not public yet.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Padclipse Text Editor

Padclipse is a new very light weight distribution of Eclipse that only contains the Text Editor and a few other plugins. The first pre-alpha release based on Eclipse 3.3RC4 just came out, but is not well tested, so caveat emptor! You can download it for Windows, Mac or Linux.

The first release of the "Lite" edition contains RCP, Text Editor, Compare and Search and not much else from the Eclipse SDK. Also included for convenience are EclipseColorer editor with syntax highlighting for many programming languages and HTTP File System.

The download is only 20MB and I've seen start up times from 2 to 5 seconds.

Future editions might include "Team" (CVS, SVN, Mylyn, ...), "Full" (Team + WST XML) and perhaps "Micro" (taking out everything that can possibly be taken out while leaving the text editor).

Padclipse also brings some new functionality that makes Eclipse easier to use as a simple editor:
  • Files (URI-s) can be opened via command line parameters, and consequent launches will open editors in a single instance of Padclipse (per user).
  • Files will be automatically linked to the workspace to make local history and other features be available to all files. This will be improved in future versions.
  • Future versions will improve OS integration and general usability.
Also, note that since I am no artist, the current splash screen is really ugly and the icon is taken from a PDE template. Padclipse needs a splash screen, an image for the about page, and an icon. So I'd like to kick off another logo contest, which will be tracked in this bug at Unfortunately, since SourceForge doesn't seem to allow everyone to attach files to bugs, files can be sent to villane at gmail dot com.