March 15, 2009

Parenscript birthday present

A while ago I mentioned I was going to announce some exciting news about web development tools. Shortly thereafter my priorities changed, and I shelved the project with the intention of picking it up again in the future. Then I remembered about LispNYC's participation in the Google Summer of Code program - if I can't do the project now, why not try to get funding from Google to have a student work on it?

Here is what all this is about:

The PSDE project aims to develop an Emacs-based JavaScript programming and debugging tool for AJAX-based RIAs. The implementation will provide an unobtrusive client-side script that can be loaded alongside any JavaScript web application, and an Emacs interface (REPL) that will enable debugging of remote and mobile clients, including the possibility of no-reload drop-in for live user sessions.

Along with an interactive prompt/REPL, PSDE will provide a profiler, tracing and logging facilities, a DOM inspector, a completion and documentation system for DOM symbols, and other useful web programming tools, both by using the reflective capabilities of JavaScript, and by providing hooks (a la Open Implementation) into the Parenscript compiler to provide metaprogram information that cannot be gleamed using runtime techniques or analysis of JavaScript code.

In addition to providing a valuable tool to the web development community, the OI extensions to the Parenscript compiler included as part of the PSDE project will be useful in their own right to those wishing to create other web development tools based on Parenscript, or web developers using Parenscript and needing advanced JavaScript generation capabilities.

The project has its roots in the "browser Comet REPL" demo I gave during my talk about Parenscript at LispNYC in September 2007, but the idea of making a "browser SLIME" didn't occur to me until this past November, when Daniel Gackle told me: "Why don't you make a browser SLIME?"

If you are a student that might be interested in this project and qualify to participate in Google SoC, or know of such an individual, get in touch: I'll be happy to answer any questions and help you with preparing an application. Google will start accepting student applications March 23rd, with the cut-off date being April 3rd.

UPDATE: LispNYC has not been selected as a mentoring organization for SOC 2009. I would like to fund this project myself, but currently cannot afford it.

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