Notes on Language Server Protocol

Surprise! I’ve been implementing something like the Language Server Protocol (LSP) with AntlrVSIX. The LSP is an abstraction for an editor (ed) using JSON as the lingua franca between the editor and a GUI client. The editor server: offers the persistence of code files; organizes files in a “workspace”; provides an API for edits, tagging, go to def, find all refs, reformat, code completion, defs for tooltips, etc. LSP is a step in the right direction because it separates an editor server backend from a GUI frontend, which is what AntlrVSIX is about.

What is not surprising is that the LSP handles things a little different than what I did. In AntlrVSIX, parse trees were shared with the GUI code. But LSP doesn’t share them, rightly so if you don’t want to swamp the link between GUI and server. But, LSP doesn’t seem to offer a “workspace” model that has nested “projects”, or attributes associated with a document. In VS, this information encodes whether a file participates in the build, compiler options, etc. LSP also hardwires the classes of symbols in a file–it can’t handle an Antlr grammar because there is no class for terminal or non-terminal symbols. In AntlrVSIX, classifications are strings, so it can represent anything.

The next release of AntlrVSIX is taking a while. I’ve been cleaning it up considerably and fixing bugs.

–Ken

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