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I thought it would only be a matter of time before the patterns from the Gang of Four appeared in Microsoft's DSL design tool add-in for Visual Studio 2005 . ClipCode has done just that.

So, what is a DSL?

A picture can says a thousand words and this is why greater understanding is achieved with diagrams.

As you can imagine, an icon or graphic can have a different meaning depending on the group, company or industry, i.e. 'the domain' you work in. It is difficult to have a diagramming system that is common and standard across all domains without being complex which kind of makes the whole point of having a diagram pointless.

Is the diagramming system is specific to the domain, you are going to be in with a fighting chance of combating complexity. Where the Microsoft DSL tool comes into it's own is the diagram system has intelligence underneath the layers of abstraction that ultimately generates .Net code. The special feature for me is that the diagramming itself will react if the code changes effectively keeping the diagram alive and uptodate so it can be used again at a later date.

Ok, so this is not a new concept, UML diagramming tools having been performing similar functions these with class diagrams, for example, for ages,( and lets not forget CASE tools!) In my opinion I would regards DSLs as the next logic step as you effectively have control over the syntax of your diagram, hence why it's called a language.

So is DSL the future? Well I hope so, but it has a long way to go before more are convinced. What is for certain, Microsoft have made a long term commitment and clearly organisations such as ClipCode are also investing. The point of DSL's are that the user communities make them for their domain and not committees or standards bodies so it's closer to the real users.

Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 1:41 PM Main , Technical Architecture | Back to top

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