Hello World!

In retrospect, the most obvious missing feature of Ecstasy is the prototypical "Hello World!" example.

The earliest adopters / experimenters / hackers who have been playing with Ecstasy for some time now were somehow able to divine the magic incantations necessary to get get code compiling and running (sometimes with help from our team), but it's time to make this process much easier.

This won't be a single update; rather, it is a process -- of moving the project from a small team that knows all of the undocumented nooks and crannies, out into the public sphere. The initial experience with Ecstasy should not be as soul-sucking and psychologically scarring as a Google job interview. For a new user, it should be straight-forward to get started, and not some experience like an "obstacle course" or "running the gauntlet".

To that end, we introduce step one, the Hello World:
module HelloWorld
    void run()
        @Inject Console console;
        console.println("Hello World!");
Here's a short explanation of the code, which is found in ./xdk/src/main/resources/xdk/examples/HelloWorld.x:
  • A module is the unit of compilation, loading, linking, and execution, so we need to write one of those. Don't worry -- as you can see, it's easy.
  • The xec command (which we'll cover below) looks for a method on the module called "run" that takes no parameters. (The module is a class, so "void run()" on the module is just a normal method.)
  • Ecstasy code is purposefully incapable of doing any I/O; for security reasons, there is nothing in the language (or in the compiled form of the language) that has any access to any hardware or OS resource. As a result, the code must depend on its container to provide something that implements the Console interface; this is called injection. The behavior of the console that is injected by the TestConnector is to print to stdout.
  • The declaration "@Inject Console console;" declares a read-only variable called console, and when it is de-referenced. it will always have a value that is a Console. (It is a contract; if the container could not -- or chose not to -- provide a Console, then the creation of the container itself would have failed.)
  • Hopefully, the line that prints out "Hello World!" is self-explanatory.
Here are the steps to getting this running:
  • The git utility is used for downloading project code. Open a terminal window (aka command window aka shell) and type "git" to verify that you have it installed and working. If you don't, then you can get git; if you develop on a Mac, git is already included in the Command Line Tools for XCode.
  • Java is used to run the current Ecstasy toolchain, and version 11 (or later) of the JDK is required. Open a terminal window, and type "java -version" to verify that you have the necessary version of Java installed. If necessary, you can download the free JDK 11 from the Amazon Corretto project, for example.
  • We strongly encourage you to download IntelliJ IDEA, if you don't already use it. (Or update it to the latest version, if you already use it.) Since Ecstasy is an open source project on GitHub, you can use the "Community" edition of IDEA. (We do think that it is an IDE worth paying for, so don't be afraid to splurge on the "Ultimate" edition!)
  • Determine a location to create a local repository for the XVM project. The rest of these instructions will assume Unix style paths and an installation location of ~/Development/xvm, but if you're on Windows, just create an XVM project directory somewhere, e.g. Development\xvm under your user directory.
  • From the terminal, in that XVM directory, execute: git clone https://github.com/xtclang/xvm.git  This will take a few seconds (maybe minutes) to completely clone the project into your XVM directory.
  • Next, use the Gradle wrapper to build a local copy of the Ecstasy development kit (XDK) with the following command: ./gradlew build  (or gradlew.exe build on Windows) This will take a minute or so to completely build the XDK.
  • The XDK is built under the ./xdk project directory under your XVM directory, specifically ./xdk/build/xdk sub-directory. You can copy the built XDK to a location of your choosing, but for these instructions, we will leave it in the location in which it was built.
  • To configure the toolchain for your OS, execute the appropriate command in the bin directory of the XDK; for example, on macOS, execute . ./xdk/build/xdk/bin/cfg_macos.sh. (Notice the dot and space at the beginning of the command; this is called a "source command" in Bash. Unfortunately, this does not work with the zsh shell that is now the default on macOS, so you have to run ./xdk/build/xdk/bin/cfg_macos.sh without the preceding source command, and then manually update the PATH to add ./xdk/build/xdk/bin.)
  • Now you can use the xtc, xec, and xam commands from the terminal. On some operating systems, if these executable files are not signed and/or notarized, you may get an error or a warning the first time that you run them. For example, macOS includes a program called GateKeeper that may need to be configured to allow these programs to be executed.
  • Each time that you open a new terminal window, you will need to execute the OS-specific configuation script to update the PATH variable; alternatively, you can configure your OS to automatically update the PATH for you, but the complexity of that topic is immense, and beyond the scope of this document. (On macOS and Linux, one normally would create a .profile file in one's home directory and add one line that says e.g. export PATH=$PATH:~/xvm/xdk/build/xdk/bin, but there are pages of conversation to read through on StackOverflow for when this simple approach fails to work for your configuration.)
  • To compile the HelloWorld example, use the xtc command: xtc ./xdk/build/xdk/examples/HelloWorld.x
  • The compiler places the compiled .xtc file into the current directory (which in this case is probably where you don't want it, but for the sake of this example, we'll ignore this detail). To execute the program: xec HelloWorld.xtc
And if all went well, you should see:
Hello World!

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