Thursday, January 26, 2006

Do you need a sexy DSM tool?

I got some feedback today from someone who had done some hands-on with MetaEdit+, his first comment was that he did not feel too good about the UI, it had a 90ies feel to him. His other comments were very positive though. Although we have seen a major improvement in the UI since the previous version I somehow understood what he meant. I took a look at Microsofts Visual Studio DSL tools tonight to get a feel for how a modeling environment can look when dressed to kill and oh boy..... the guys at MS certainly put in their best cosmetic skills in order to make me wet my pants.

For those interested, MS has an online lab where you can test the new DSL tools without having to install the monster, I hear it's about 900Mb and requires 3 machines ;) , so an online lab comes in handy. Try Googling for MSDN Virtual Labs and you'll likely find it. After some registrations and wrestling between Firefox and a dusty Internet Explorer I got access to the lab, wet my pants, and found my next barrier was my Finnish keyboard setting but luckily managed to solve this fairly soon.

After doing the excercise "Building a Domain-Specific Language Designer" (in English this means: Making a sexy looking DSL tool support a very simple DSL) I have to conclude that I can do the same exercise also with MetaEdit+ within one hour. I admit I do not get the sexy environment with its rounded, shaded toolbars but on the other hand with MetaEdit+ I do not have to import any pre-defined stuff, like ehr...the domain model (read: whole language definition) and its entire visual notation in order to be able to complete the exercise within one hour. A note to the people at the Microsoft DSL team: If you just import all this stuff...can you then still call it "Building a Domain-Specific Language Designer" as the exercise implies?? I think a title like "Opening a DSL project in Visual Studio Team System" would be more appropriate. The sexy environment hardly compensates for the fact that this takes an hour to do.

1 comment:

Angelo said...

Hmm. I get the picture - I'd rather have a 90-ish looking DSM tool that generates a 21 century-ish application for my end users (provided they are looking for that), than spend half a day fooling around to get things working :-)