Monday, September 18, 2006

Congratulations to Microsoft DSL Team

Jack, Steve, Gareth, Stuart, George, Jochen, Pedro, Alan, congratulations for the great work in bringing the Microsoft DSL tools this far! Your work means a lot to the category of model-driven development tools based on domain-specific modeling languages.
That the DSL tools have a lot of mindshare is shown for example by the article published yesterday on DevX that introduces the Software Factories approach by Edward Bakker and Christian Weyer. It puts the current (still immature) state of the Microsoft DSL tools in good perspective - don't get me wrong - I really think the DSL team has done an excellent job but there is still a long way to go, just like we at MetaCase had after releasing version 1.0 of MetaEdit+ back in 1993.
One of the problems described in the article deals with keeping generated artifacts and models in synch. It's inherent really to the horizontal focus the DSL's have in Microsofts view, this - in my humble opinion - will often (if not always) lead to an inability to generate full code from models, thus always leading to a chicken-and-egg situation: which one comes first. The article suggests ( I think correctly) that models to get the no.1 spot and proposes round-tripping as a solution. The problem it subsequently does not deal with is the difference in abstraction levels between the two. Steven gave an excellent explanation of this problem in his article on Having to keep stuff in synch with each other always is a recipe for trouble, which is why code generation should aim at being complete.
Still, a big hats off for the DSL tools team at Microsoft, as the article shows, already some very cool things can be done with the current version.

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