Doman-Specific Languages

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-10-29 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

What's your stance on DSLs [domain-specific languages] and their effectiveness?

Well, I'm not the expert on that.  I just want to say that.  I've talked to Charles Simonyi on that. And, you know, if you really want to write a good article about that-and it has nothing to do with Microsoft technologies. ... But this is a guy who's truly into this, and he's a lot more in touch with customers.  He's shown me examples of DSLs that have been quickly whipped up for a specific business customer, and it works. You know, once they get exposed to it, it's extremely productive. But I have not in my career been exposed enough to those situations where I could actually draw a pattern to see how much of this is going to be used by the programmer who's closest to the businessperson, or really by the businessperson. I just can't tell.

It's like I don't want to get trapped in the same thing when we were in the 4GL era of, well, everybody is just going to draw these flowcharts, and it's all going to be goodness; it just didn't work out that way.

That's why I was curious ... because of that potential effect.

I'll just say it this way. I think there's a ... in terms of my leadership style I keep on trying to draw out of these people who build these things under Bob [Muglia] to show me the concrete connections as to how to get from where you are to where you will be, so that you don't end up building a big sandbox that nobody ends up using. There's that danger with any brilliant engineers and designers.

But ... I absolutely believe in the value of modeling, unquestionably believe in the value of modeling.   

Yeah, and that actually was where I was headed with that question-the whole sandbox issue.

You'll definitely see some of that.  You know, I'm not going to deny that. But they wouldn't be allowed to do this unless there weren't also ... you may not be aware of this.  All the way into the field there are connections.  David Vaskevitch has a group that in essence does briefings with enterprise customers, shows them the most recent stuff, and tries to do some level of plausibility connection between what people are actually doing and what's being built.  The connection is not completely there yet, and in PDC you're not going to see that.

But if it works as planned, it  seems like it could be a big shortcut compared with what some others might be doing.

Well, you're more familiar-I'm being very straight-you're more familiar with that than I am at a detail level.  I'm just trying to make sure that the two connections that I can make happen, happen.  One is to make sure that they keep staying in touch with the customer, and one is to make sure that for the people who are actually racing to a solution like the Azure ... they use it very pragmatically.  They weren't worrying about the theory of modeling and all the generality of it.  They did it because they needed it and it works; it's the best way of doing it. And connecting that power back into those tools at the same time. I'm feeling good that we're going in the right direction.



 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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