Alt.Net London beers night - 14th October 2008

With a collection of many respected developers present the topic of the day was Domain Specific Languages. This was selected as the most popular from a number of topics posted to the "board" and just beat Inversion of Control to the post, among many others. No one was to know how contentious the topic could become when a common definition for the term was called for.

It appeared there was some difficulty in expressing the term in a consistent fashion which caused the session to become rather mired in justification conversations as opposed to exploration and better understanding. However, with a push from the moderators we did get to some valuable descriptions of examples in action to shed light on what exactly was trying to be expressed by the term DSL.

I personally had very little Domain Specific Languages other than the many blog posts on the subject by Oren Eini (Ayende). It was however very useful to me to watch the exploration of a subject in the park bench format, having not attended an event such as this before.

For me, the night spoke about "business rules" and the power a DSL could have in closing the communication gap between business domain knowledge experts and developers. By providing a common platform for rules that are more easily understood by our business partners we can deliver something that truly speaks in their terms and pushes the system into delivering benefits that really match their needs.

Of course, any abstraction comes at a price, but with a very rule-heavy business I can imagine that the development and maintenance cost of an intermediate language would pay dividends in the long term on complex systems with a shared responsibility for the working definitions of a system.

Roll on the next beers night.