Software development tools that work and behave consistently across different programming languages are helpful for developers, because they do not have to familiarize themselves with new tooling whenever they decide to use a new language. Also, being able to combine multiple programming languages in a program increases reusability, as developers do not have to recreate software frameworks and libraries in the language they develop in and can reuse existing software instead.
However, developers often have a broad choice with regard to tools, some of which are designed for only one specific programming language. Various Integrated Development Environments have support for multiple languages, but are usually unable to provide a consistent programming experience due to different features of language runtimes. Furthermore, common mechanisms that allow reuse of software written in other languages usually use the operating system or a network connection as the abstract layer. Tools, however, often cannot support such indirections well and are therefore less useful in debugging scenarios for example.
In this report, we present a novel approach that aims to improve the programming experience with regard to working with multiple high-level programming languages. As part of this approach, we reuse the tools of a Smalltalk programming environment for other languages and build a multi-language virtual execution environment which is able to provide the same runtime capabilities for all languages.
The prototype system Squimera is an implementation of our approach and demonstrates that it is possible to reuse development tools, so that they behave in the same way across all supported programming languages. In addition, it provides convenient means to reuse and even mix software libraries and frameworks written in different languages without breaking the debugging experience.