On Wednesday we hosted a presentation of the Biological Knowledge Base project as part of our third day of the MPS Talk Series 2021. This project uses the JetBrains Web-based Projectional editor, also known as WebMPS. We are thrilled by the responses and we believe that there is some confusion about the topic, so we decided to create an FAQ to provide a bit more information about the project and the technology behind it.

What is the Biological Knowledge Base project (BKBP)?

Biological Knowledge Base is a collaborative project between JetBrains and Genestack, and its goal is to create a repository of biological information that is in a structured form and that can be queried. The project uses Domain-specific Languages (DSLs) that will be used by biology experts from the browser using a web-based projectional editor. The project is currently under development, and we expect to release the first version of it in about a year.
What is the plan for WebMPS?

We will use the BKBP project as a source of requirements and use cases for the first version of WebMPS. The plan is to tune the technology to cover all necessary functionality in the scope of the first BKBP release. After that, we will focus on the WebMPS product itself. We will spend some time adapting the product as well as the DSLs inside it, and we will probably release the first version of WebMPS a year after the BKBP release. At the moment we are focused on improving the projectional editing experience and non-textual notations.
What is the difference between WebMPS and the current version of MPS?

These are two different projects that share some of the same personnel and have similar guiding motivations.

Currently, it’s unclear whether they will remain two separate projects. We could instead merge them into a single project that covers both client-side projectional editing and server-side editing. Depending on this decision, we will either modify the current version of MPS to support server-side editing or we will keep the two independent projects and develop them in parallel. In this case, we may use the current version of MPS as an IDE for DSLs to generate code for WebMPS. All these options are still on the table.
Are there any plans to stop developing MPS?

JetBrains is dedicated to continuing to develop MPS. To date, it is a unique piece of technology that provides unmatched language engineering capabilities. An increasing number of customers have been developing projects on top of MPS that would be very difficult to do without it, and some of them have signed long-term support agreements with JetBrains. Not to mention, JetBrains has open positions for the MPS team.
Is Web-MPS going to be open source?

It’s too early to make a decision about this, but we are considering a licensing approach for all, or at least some part, of this technology.
We believe that projectional editing in the browser is a key component of future language workbenches, and this our attempt to explore this direction. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to contact us.
Have a great day!

Your JetBrains MPS team

The Drive to Develop

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