The ABS modeling language and surrounding tools
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ABS Tools Build Status

Inside this repository we develop the core tools of the ABS modelling language. The current language manual is at

To run the ABS collaboratory (a browser-based IDE for ABS) locally using Docker, execute the following command:

docker run -p 8080:80 --rm abslang/collaboratory:latest

Then connect your browser to http://localhost:8080/. It is not necessary to clone the repository or compile the toolchain to run the ABS collaboratory in this way.


  • frontend - the ABS compiler and runtime support. See frontend/README for installation instructions. (short version: install jdk8, ant and erlang version 21, then run make frontend in this directory.)

  • abs-docs - the ABS language manual, available online at To generate the manual locally, install maven, then run make manual.

    • abs-docs/ReferenceManual - an older LaTeX ABS reference manual, now mostly of historical interest

    • abs-docs/Ott - a formal grammar for a large subset of ABS, written in Ott

  • emacs - Editor support for ABS.

  • org.abs-models.releng - Files used by Jenkins and Buckminster for continuous integration at

  • abs-packages - demonstration and description of how to use ABS packages (with Maven dependencies management)

  • abs-unit - demonstration, description and initial ideas about the ABSUnit (a unit testing framework for ABS) (with Maven dependencies management)

  • various leftovers from previous projects, to be evaluated and reactivated or pruned

    • maven-support - Maven plugin for generating Java/Maude from ABS, testing and packaging ABS codes

Using Vagrant

To develop the ABS tools without installing additional software, you can use Vagrant. Vagrant will start a Linux virtual machine and install the needed dependencies.

First, install Vagrant from and VirtualBox from

To create the ABS virtual machine, run the command vagrant up in this directory. Run vagrant ssh to login to that machine (login vagrant/vagrant), or open http://localhost:8888/ to connect to a local version of the collaboratory. Currently supported browsers include Firefox, Chrome, recent IE (no Safari).

Within the VM, this directory is accessible as /vagrant.

Note for Windows Users

Please clone the archive without line ending conversion (unfortunately activated by default on Windows). Use -c core.autocrlf=false as argument for the initial git clone command, i.e.,

git clone -c core.autocrlf=false

Otherwise, running the tools inside Vagrant or Docker will fail with obscure error messages.

Working with the repository

Consider rebasing instead of merging your changes:

git pull --rebase

This avoids spurious "merge branch to master" commits.

git pull --rebase will, in case both you and the remote repository have new commits, replay your local commits on top of upstream changes instead of adding a new local commit that merges the master and origin/master branches. Conflicts have to be resolved per patch (via git add + git rebase --continue) instead of in one go, but we get a cleaner history.