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Red Hat links Java to Microsoft's Visual Studio Code

Using a newly minted protocol for language and IDE interoperability, Red Hat is expanding Java developers' ability to use Microsoft's Visual Studio Code editor.

This functionality was enabled by last week's release of Red Hat's Java language support extension to the Visual Studio Code marketplace. The extension is based on Red Hat's Java language server, an implementation of the Language Server Protocol recently forged by Red Hat, Microsoft, and CodEnvy. Based on JSON-RPC 2.0, the protocol defines calls and data structures to implement common language functionality on IDEs and editors.

Red Hat's free extension enables Java language "smartness" for Visual Studio Code, said Gorkem Ercan, Red Hat principal software engineer. "When the extension is not present, VS Code can only provide syntax coloring while editing Java artifacts," he said. "When the extension is enabled, VS Code can assist developers with code completion, error reporting, code formatting, and similar features that developers are accustomed to from IDEs such as Red Hat JBoss Developer Studio."

Visual Studio Code offers debugging, task running, and version control. It's intended for quick coding, building, and debugging while leaving more complex workflows to IDEs with more features.

This initial release of the extension comes with a modest feature list that includes Javadoc hovers and highlights, compilation error reporting as you type, code completion, navigation, outline and formatting, Maven-based project support,and codelen: for references.

More work is planned on the extension, Ercan noted. "We have also proposed the Java language server -- only the server part, not the VS Code extension -- as a project on Eclipse.org. This will enable us to innovate faster while working together with communities such as Eclipse JDT (Java development tools), Eclipse Che and Eclipse Orion."

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