A Survey of Language Workbenches

Tobi Vollebregt. A Survey of Language Workbenches. In Eelco Visser, editor, Proceedings of the Seminar on Meta-Programming (SMP 2010). 2010.


Domain-speci c languages (DSLs) o er more expressivity than general purpose languages (GPLs). The up-front investment re- quired to develop a DSL is often an obstacle, as is the lack of editor services for traditionally developed DSLs. This lack of editor services be- comes a bigger problem as tools for GPLs have increasingly better editor services.

Language workbenches intend to solve these problems: By providing an environment for rapid DSL development the cost for developing a DSL can be reduced signi cantly. At the same time language workbenches aim to generate not only a compiler or interpreter for the DSL, but a complete programming environment including many common editor services. An overview of the components and requirements of a typical language workbench and a number of the most important modern language workbenches are presented in this paper.