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We use the Spoofax language workbench in the lab to develop a MiniJava editor.

The Spoofax Language Workbench supports the definition of all aspects of textual languages, such as syntax, static analysis, and compilation, using high-level, declarative meta-languages. From a language definition using these meta-languages, Spoofax generates full-featured Eclipse and IntelliJ editor plugins, as well as a command-line interface. The generated editors include syntax highlighting, syntax checking, parse error recovery, error markers for syntactic and semantic errors, and custom operations, such as invoking an interpreter or compiler.


In this lab, we will be using the Spoofax Eclipse plugin. You can download an Eclipse installation with the Spoofax Eclipse plugin preinstalled from our build farm:

To install Spoofax, unpack the downloaded archive into a location with write access. To run Spoofax, just start Eclipse.

On Windows, do not unpack the Eclipse installation into Program Files, because no write access is granted there, breaking Spoofax.

Fore more detailed instructions on installing and running Spoofax, follow our Getting Started guide, but skip the download step (start at the unpack step) and use the file you downloaded from one of the above links.


To update the Spoofax plugin in Eclipse, perform the following steps:

  1. go to Help -> Install New Software…
  2. in the Work with field, enter
  3. press enter and wait for the update site to load
  4. press Select All
  5. press Next and wait for Eclipse to calculate what to install and update
  6. press Finish to download and install updates
  7. when a security warning pops up, press OK to dismiss the warning
  8. when Eclipse has installed all updates, it will ask for a restart, press Yes to restart Eclipse

If installation fails with errors indicating that “updates are not permitted”, it means that your Eclipse installation is in a location that requires admin rights to write files. This is the case on Windows if you’ve copied Eclipse to Program Files. Move it to a directory where you have write access, such as the desktop, to solve the problem.


We host documentation for Spoofax and its meta-languages at