Another Decompression Artifact Example: Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs)

This is a particularly odd example, as the three-letter-acronym “DSL” is already in wide use as the name of a technology nobody really understands (Digital Subscriber Line). It reminds me of the time Microsoft rolled out the acronym “DNS” for Digital Nervous System. This isn’t quite that bad, but is still pretty confusing.

Martin Fowler is been writing about Domain Specific Languages for some time now. He’s apparently even writing a book on the subject at the moment. For the longest time, I just ignored blog (and bliki) posts on the subject, as I read the title and immediately assumed that it was something that wouldn’t work for me. It was only when a friend said “no really, you need to read about this” that I actually got it.

In the style of my previous decompression artifacts, I’ve created one for DSLs.

DSL Decompression Artifact

Once you get past the almost inevetable initial misunderstanding of what it actually is, creating a domain-specific, fluent, expressive interface for your domain objects is a really cool idea. It’s also something you can work with incrementally. If you just change every void method ot a “this” method, none of your existing clients will break, and people who aren’t down with DSLs don’t have to do anything any differently.

On a side note: I recently did a TDD presentation for a large-ish company in Portland that has been working with ThoughtWorks for a while. One of the attendees said to me, before I started, “Oh, someone said Martin was doing a presentation and I was expecting Martin Fowler.”

Ouch. Talk about living up to high expectations. I’ve been a big fan of Fowler’s work (and of ThoughtWorks in general) for a while now. There are actual new ideas in his writing, while I just organize, package, and give context to existing ideas. 

While daunted, I think I managed to put on an OK presentation.

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