AVI'2006 Paper

Syntax Analysis for Diagram Editors: A Constraint Satisfaction Problem

Author:
Mark Minas
Abstract:
Most visual languages of today have a meta-model as syntax specification. Before meta-models became popular, grammars of various flavors have been used for specifying a visual language's syntax. Grammars are more complicated to build than meta-models, but grammars allow for parsing of visual sentences which is necessary for building free-hand editors. Parsing has not yet been considered for meta-model-based specifications. Such visual editors support only structured editing so far. This paper shows that the syntax analysis problem ("parsing") for meta-model-based language specifications can be transformed into a constraint satisfaction problem and solved that way.  This approach, therefore, allows for easy free-hand editing and, at the same time, easy meta-model-based language specifications. The efficiency of the approach has been demonstrated by realization in the diagram editor generator DiaGen.
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This is an extended version of the paper
M. Minas. Syntax analysis for diagram editors: a constraint satisfaction problem. Appears in Proc. AVI'2006.