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MSBuild and #Develop Support Moves F# Closer to Production Quality

by Jonathan Allen on Sep 11, 2007 |

F# is a functional language being developed by Microsoft Research. Based on OCaml, the language has been the test bed for many features that eventually made their way into the CLR and the production languages VB and C#. That is not to say people have not been using F# for production work in its own right.

In order to provide a richer environment for writing F# based applications, Robert Pickering has been working on integrating F# into #Develop. #Develop is an open source IDE inspired by Visual Studio and designed with managed code in mind.

The first step was to create a MSBuild provider. Robert based his on MonoCompilerTask. Provided by #Develop, this class provides an interface between command line compilers and MSBuild.

Next was the #Develop plug-in itself. Features that alpha version supports include

  • Code Colouring
  • Project System
  • Reorder of Source Files
  • F# Interactive integration
  • TODO List (roughly in order of priority):
  • Clever search for the F# compiler and other binaries
  • Support .fsi interface files
  • Support Automatic Error Checking
  • Support Auto-Completion
  • Create Icons to avoid icon theft!

Robert, author of book Foundations of F#, isn't resting on his laurels. He really is pushing to have F# become a full-fledged production language.

My aim is to get the F# made part of the #Develop distribution, but, rightly so, there are a couple of legal and quality hurdles that need to be reached before it can be integrated into their main release. I’m sure these hurdles will be over come soon, but I decide to do an alpha release from my own site to solicit feedback and in case there’s anyone out there eager to see this sort of thing.

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