A Java-Summercamp

It has been a while , but on the 29th of August I have attended the 2008 version of the Java Summercamp. This gathering was organized by profict, a dutch IT-company. They have an office with a great view (picture), now that is what I call a green working environment!

The topic of this day was Domain Specific Languages (DSL's). Since my talk about fluent interfaces at the J-Spring 2008 I became more and more interested in this topic. I hoped to hear more about why you would want to use a DSL, and see some examples of DSL's in practice. Luckily, I got what I wanted.

The first speaker was Neal Ford. His first presentation (slides) gave a general overview of the usefulness of DSL's. He argued that Java can be seen as a framework-oriented language. Nowadays, a Java-programmer uses many frameworks which he ties together with configuration-files written in XML. He proposes to use a DSL to abstract over these large configuration files in order to make it easier to tie frameworks together. He also gave an overview of some techniques to implement (mostly internal) DSL's. Actually, his second presentation mostly consisted of examples of DSL's in various languages. It is always fun to see examples of what you can do in other languages.

Sven Efftinge was the second speaker with his presentation (slides) about XText. I was surprised to see that it actually looked very simple to 1) create a DSL by typing in EBNF 2) generate an eclipse editor for this DSL with the click of a button and 3) generate a generator for your DSL using the same click. Naturally, everything was already set-up so that it looked easier then it actually is. I have tried to make a small example to show at the office, but failed miserably to get the generator to do what I want. Anyhow, if you have a spare afternoon then checking out this project is certainly worth the effort.

The third (and last) speaker was Zef Hemel. His presentation (slides) about WebDsl gave a nice overview of the setup and current status of the project. I was already a bit familiar with the project and it was fun to get an update. Also, I enjoy seeing the face of people that are confronted with Stratego for the first time :)

All and all I can say that it certainly an afternoon well spent.