Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs) are becoming more and more popular, allowing developers to express their intent more precisely and with less syntactic noise. DSLs can be built on top of a host language (like Java or Ruby), which are referred to as "internal DSLs". External DSLs are far more flexible in terms of language design: You can define any desired grammar, you can define domain specific constraints and error messages. You can process documents written in the DSL by either interpreting them or by transforming them into the code of any language using a generator.
Xtext, which is a part of the Eclipse Galileo release, is a framework for developing textual domain-specific languages. Given an EBNF-style grammar, Xtext automatically generates an Ecore meta model and a rich-featured, fully configurable, text-based DSL editor, including features such as syntax highlighting, hyperlinked reference navigation, reference look-up, code completion, formatting, an outline and so on. The default implementation can easily be customized.
In this session, we will explain what DSLs are and why you should care about using them. After a short introduction, we will show in a live demo how to develop DSLs with Xtext. You will see how to define a grammar for a DSL and create a full-blown editor for this DSL. We will also show how to apply code generation that allows you to transform your DSL scripts into running software.
16th November 2009