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Accessing the Project

There are many different ways to get the MPS/IntelliJ project, some of which are hacks you should avoid. This page only lists the recommended approaches on purpose. There are only a few practical use cases for the project class: access scope, repository, and core components. The idea is that user-triggered actions take what's necessary (e.g., a command lock), and then the code down the execution path shall not care to take one.

What Are the Different Project Classes?

  • com.intellij.openapi.project.Project: a project in the IntelliJ platform. There are different ways ⧉ to access the project instance, but most are unavailable in MPS. Every time you interact with the IntelliJ platform, you need this class.
  • org.jetbrains.mps.openapi.project.Project: The class is the MPS equivalent of an IntelliJ project. It provides access to the repository, its name and modules, and the model access class for reading and writing models.
  • jetbrains.mps.project.Project: This class abstracts away the MPS project. The project may rely on the IntelliJ project or not. It has a scope and a corresponding project repository to store modules.
  • jetbrains.mps.project.ProjectBase: This is the basic MPS Project implementation. This project is tied to the MPS platform and gives access to the MPS core platform and components it comprises.
  • jetbrains.mps.project.MPSProject: This class represents a project based on the idea platform project. It is in use in MPS as an IDEA plugin. The method getProject() returns the IntelliJ project.
  • jetbrains.mps.project.StandaloneMPSProject: This class is for MPS as a standalone IDE. #project on the MPS console returns an instance of this class.


You might need access to a project in a few different places. Not all of them can access it.


Actions ⧉ provide access to the MPS/IntelliJ project, the project frame, and other information via action context parameters. The official documentation also explains the classes you must import to access those. You can find the available actions on the page Actions | Reference. There is no need to convert between different project classes because all project parameters are available.


This topic is also explained on the Specific Languages blog: How to get the current MPS project from within the editor. Components in the IntelliJ platform can implement the interface DataProvider ⧉ to provide data that you can access through the DataManager ⧉ class. A typical data provider is the editor component. Actions also support the DataManager:

Component editorComponent = (Component) editorContext.getEditorComponent();
MPSProject project = MPSDataKeys.MPS_PROJECT.getData(DataManager.getInstance().getDataContext(component));
This snippet shows the recommended way to access the project in the editor or Java Swing component cells. The following more straightforward approach also works but depends on implementation details that might change in the future:

Project project = ProjectHelper.getProject(editorContext.getRepository());

The editor context is available for most features, like transformation menus, style sheets, and action maps.


Intentions always have the editorContext available and can access the project the same way as the editor. If you need to access the project or other context information, consider using an action instead. You can show actions in the editor's right-click menu if you need them closer to the editor.


The project expression is available in tests, although you should only need it when invoking the generator or resolving nodes through the global repository.

Plugin Solution/Plugin Aspect

If you need access to the project object, you can use a project plugin with an MPSProject instance in the init and dispose block. You can pass the instance to other classes as well. To get the IntelliJ project use ProjectHelper.toIdeaProject(project).

Other Places

Some low-level code, like behaviors, are not supposed to start a command or interact with the UI (where some dialogs require the project/IDE frame). There's always a project for user-triggered actions, and this is the moment proper command access gets started and various UI stuff happens. It's wrong to invoke some behavior that would try to guess the project down the road. Typically, there also should not be a need to access the project in the generator.

Code to Avoid

  • guessing the project through ProjectManager.getInstance().getOpenedProjects()
  • guessing the project through the owners of (MPSModuleRepository) (model/.getRepository())
  • accessing the project in an application plugin
  • guessing the IntelliJ project through the WindowManager class

When you need to access the model from a different thread (concurrent access ⧉), it might be tempting to write the following code that doesn't work:

command with node.model/.getRepository() {


It will fail with the following exception: GlobalModelAccess does not support actions that require a command to run. One needs a project to run such actions. In those cases, accessing it and writing project.getRepository(). Use one of the mentioned methods, and don't guess the project. A question that you should answer first: Do I need to invoke the code here, or is there a better place to invoke it?


  • Model listeners ⧉ don't have access to the project.
  • The project is necessary for project-wide find usage/project scope.
  • Use the class ProjectHelper ⧉ to convert between projects, SRepository instances, and frames.