Thursday, May 15, 2008

[Misc] Martin Fowlers live DSL book

Today I would like to point your interest on the project that Martin Fowler is currently working on. So if you look at his homepage, you can see that he is actually working on a book about Domain Specific Languages (DSL).

The interesting thing in this is that he is writing in publicy and you can even trace his work with an RSS feed he is providing. His motivation was partially that there is much hype in this topic and lots of specific talks and papers, but no holistic approach for this topic. So whoever is interested in DSLs (and Software Engineers should!) should read this to gain a broad view of this topic.

And Martin Fowler would not be Martin Fowler if he won't use simple examples to illustrate his views: It reads like an adventure in a castle where you walk around, turn the light on three times, open doors and panels, take a picture off the wall, and much more to obtain a treasure.

And this example illustrated that you have rules, input data and thus you might have something like a state machine that helps you to solve a task. So one core item in this book is to show the variety of how these state machines can be build using:
  • Method Chaining
  • Pushing Parameters into objects or nesting
  • Literal collections (like being used in Ruby or Rails)
  • Closures (please let them arrive in Java...)
  • parsing XML or other notations
and even Macros or annotations. Doing this, he carefully outlines and distinguishes between internal and external approaches. So if you as a Software Engineer would have to solve such a problem you would normally remember only a few approaches. Using Martin Fowlers book, your senses will be quite sharpened to find the best solution for your problem.

But he already has more chapters written as expression builder, networks, lots of parser issues, symbol tables and much more.

To conclude: it's not only worthwhile to see a respected author nearly live working on a book. The current DSL textfragments will help a lot to fin the right hammer for lots of software engineering problems.

1 comment:

Claus Polanka said...

Excellent posting.
Thank you