MontiCore: Modular Development of Textual Domain Specific Languages

Holger Krahn, Bernhard Rumpe, Steven Völkel. MontiCore: Modular Development of Textual Domain Specific Languages. In Richard F. Paige, Bertrand Meyer, editors, Objects, Components, Models and Patterns, 46th International Conference, TOOLS EUROPE 2008, Zurich, Switzerland, June 30 - July 4, 2008. Proceedings. Volume 11 of Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, pages 297-315, Springer, 2008. [doi]


Reuse is a key technique for a more efficient development and ensures the quality of the results. In object technology explicit encapsulation, interfaces, and inheritance are well-known principles for independent development that enable combination and reuse of developed artifacts. In this paper we apply modularity concepts for domain specific languages (DSLs) and discuss how they help to design new languages by extending existing ones and composing fragments to new DSLs. We use an extended grammar format with appropriate tool support that avoids redefinition of existing functionalities by introducing language inheritance and embedding as first class artifacts in a DSL definition. Language embedding and inheritance is not only assisted by the parser, but also by the editor, and algorithms based on tree traversal like context checkers, pretty printers, and code generators. We demonstrate that compositional engineering of new languages becomes a useful concept when starting to define project-individual DSLs using appropriate tool support.