Little languages: little maintenance?

Arie van Deursen, Paul Klint. Little languages: little maintenance?. Journal of Software Maintenance, 10(2):75-92, 1998. [doi]


So-called little,or domain-specific languages (DSLs), have the potential to make software main- tenance simpler: domain-experts can directly use the DSL to make required routine modifica- tions. On the negative side, however,more substantial changes may become more difficult: such changes may involve altering the domain-specific language. This will require compiler technol- ogy knowledge,which not every commercial enterprise has easily available. Based on experience taken from industrial practice, we discuss the role of DSLs in software maintenance, the dangers introduced by using them, and techniques for controlling the risks involved.