Thursday, November 12, 2009

Xtext in the automotive industry

At this year's Eclipse Summit Europe there was a very nice Xtext-related talk given by Sebastian Benz who is working at BMW Car IT.
The talk was about how they used Xtext in order to develop a textual syntax and corresponding IDE for the AUTOSAR standard. The name of the project is ARText and it is freely available to all AUTOSAR members as part of the Artop project.

One of the biggest challenges when implementing the AUTOSAR standard is to create scalable solutions. AUTOSAR projects might become very, very big and in order to work with such huge projects the tools need to perform very well. In the modeling world people usually strife for repository-based (i.e. database-based) solutions as soon as projects get really big. However, the folks at BMW Car IT wanted to develop AUTOSAR projects in a traditional text-based manner and given all the good experiences with tools like JDT or IntelliJ, it's clear that text-based IDEs can scale very well.

In order to implement the language they first had tried the old Xtext version from oAW, which was way too slow. Then, later, when the new TMF Xtext came around they gave it another try and saw that the performance had been improved significantly. Sebastian showed the following slide in his talk:
After that he explained how they have solved a couple of other problems, such as supporting different releases of the standard or making the language extendable. All the solutions looked very nice, they must have some very skilled people at BMW Car IT.

He compared working with the state-of-the-art commercial graphical modeling tool (What's the name of it?) and the ARText IDE and found that the use of ARText reduces development time by about 40%.

In the end there was this nice summary slide I don't want to withhold:

It was a very nice talk and of course a pleasure to see that Xtext is used by such smart people in such an interesting environment. And even better it seems that they've had as much fun using Xtext as we had and still have when developing (and using) it. :-)

Btw.: If you have other interesting applications of Xtext or Eclipse Modeling in general, please contact me. (Even if you don't want me to blog about it ;-))

Edited: Sebastian has recently posted a screencast showing ARText in action: