WebDSL: A Case Study in Domain-Specific Language Engineering

Eelco Visser. WebDSL: A Case Study in Domain-Specific Language Engineering. In Ralf Lämmel, Joost Visser, João Saraiva, editors, Generative and Transformational Techniques in Software Engineering II, International Summer School, GTTSE 2007. Volume 5235 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 291-373, Springer, Braga, Portugal, 2007. [doi]


The goal of domain-specific languages (DSLs) is to increase the productivity of software engineers by abstracting from low-level boil- erplate code. Introduction of DSLs in the software development process requires a smooth workflow for the production of DSLs themselves. This requires technology for designing and implementing DSLs, but also a methodology for using that technology. That is, a collection of guidelines, design patterns, and reusable DSL components that show developers how to tackle common language design and implementation issues. This paper presents a case study in domain-specific language engineering. It reports on a pro ject in which the author designed and built WebDSL, a DSL for web applications with a rich data model, using several DSLs for DSL engineering: SDF for syntax definition and Stratego/XT for code gener- ation. The paper follows the stages in the development of the DSL. The contributions of the paper are three-fold. (1) A tutorial in the application of the specific SDF and Stratego/XT technology for building DSLs. (2) A description of an incremental DSL development process. (3) A domain- specific language for web-applications with rich data models. The paper concludes with a survey of related approaches.


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