November 11, 2008 oslo

Designing a language is hard; implementing it shouldn’t be

Frans Bouma has an interesting point: Designing a language is hard, and M won’t change that. And he’s right.

For many domains, a DSL can make expressing what’s important easier so that the developers using the DSLs can communicate between themselves and to a computer with fewer lines of code, making it easier to read, check and maintain. Many (arguably most) domains live without a DSL, instead encoding design decisions into general purpose languages, adding unnecessary ceremony to the essence of what’s being decided, thereby obscuring it.

Does M making designing a language easier? No. It’s still hard to design the syntax of a language. Does the M family of languages and the associated tools make it possible for more developers to add DSLs to their domains, letting them concentrate on the essence their language and reducing the Weird Science-like ceremony to bring it to life? We hope so. You’ll have to let us know.