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A beginner’s view - Textual DSL with OSLO

Created by cmiles on 8/22/2009.

For just over a month I have been working on a project at work that lets users select inventory items from a database using a textual DSL. This is the first DSL I have ever produced! I thought that it was interesting that with no significant experience in building DSLs I was able to produce a useful application in a relatively short period of time. Below are the best resources I found and a few remarks:

Overview/Perspective: The Herding Code interview with Markus Völter (who you might know from Software Engineering Radio) is interesting – while not strictly focused on textual DSLs he gives a great overview/critique of Microsoft’s OSLO effort and interesting information on the Eclipse tools in this space (some recent news related to topics in the interview from Douglas Purdy and a short post by Markus). If you want to see some of the Eclipse tools he mentions the second link will take you to a nice presentation.

Useful MGrammar/OSLO focused podcast: This podcast features Shawn Wildermuth and has some great discussion around DSLs with a focus on OSLO:

Bits and samples: The Oslo Developer Center - official downloads and samples (I thought the MGrammar samples were good study material):

Focused start: This three part series by Shawn Wildermuth was incredibly valuable because the focus of the articles matched what I was trying to accomplish quite well:

Digging deeper: There is a good chance that you will need to dig into some of the details of MGraph and MGrammar – I found the following references useful:

Skeptical? The application I developed is currently being tested by a handful of users, so far these are the points I would make in support of the DSL:

Pain points:

While the jury is still out if the application mentioned in this post will be successful I think that it was the right choice to build and try a DSL – hopefully if you are interested in trying out a textual DSL in .NET the links and information above will be interesting!


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