Carlo A. Furia and Sebastian Nanz
The 50th International Conference on Objects, Models, Components, Patterns (TOOLS Europe 2012) was the closing event in a series of symposia devoted to object technology and its applications. The conference program included 24 paper presentations covering a broad range of topics, from programming languages to models and development practices. This variety, typical of the TOOLS conferences, is a sign of the vast success of object technology and of its theoretical underpinnings.
This Special Section of the Journal of Object Technology (JOT) consists of the extended versions of two contributions selected among those presented at TOOLS Europe 2012. We picked these two pieces of work among those receiving the most positive reviews before the conference, raising substantial interest at the conference, and passing the muster of additional thorough refereeing for this Special Section after the conference. Besides being mature and high-quality research work in their own right, the two papers target topics that are indicative of the vitality of object technology even now that it has become commonplace.
Lilis and Savidis’s paper “An Integrated Approach to Source Level Debugging and Compile Error Reporting in Metaprograms” discusses techniques and tools to improve the readability and understandability of error reporting with metaprograms — that is, programs that generate other programs, such as the template programming constructs available in C++. Their solution is capable of tracing errors along the complete sequence of compilation stages and also targets aspects of IDE integration. It is also fully implemented and available for download: note the demonstration video linked to at the end of the article.
Wernli, Lungu, and Nierstrasz’s paper “Incremental Dynamic Updates with First-class Contexts” tackles a difficult problem frequently present in complex software systems that must be highly available: how to reduce the downtime required to perform system updates. Their solution hinges on turning contexts into first-class entities. Their Theseus system is thus capable of performing updates incrementally, with different threads running in parallel on different versions of the same class. The conference version of this paper also won the TOOLS 2012 Best Paper Award sponsored by the European Association for Programming Languages and Systems (EAPLS).
We are glad to be able to offer such an interesting Special Section to readers of JOT. We thank Antonio Vallecillo for suggesting this Special Section. We thank the anonymous referees for their punctual and dedicated work, instrumental in guaranteeing high quality presentations; and we thank the authors for choosing TOOLS Europe and JOT to present some of their most interesting research work.