Jim Freeze talking about writing DSLs in ruby

Jim Freeze has an interesting post about writing DSLs in ruby. Check What is a DSL? – O’Reilly Ruby:

The third time around, after the Ruby DSL hype had been going around for a while, I decided to use Ruby. This time, I was able to create the DSL in about five minutes. It was readable, and I was able to focus on the end users frame of reference.

The moral of this story is, don’t write a mini language if you don’t have too. And, don’t settle for a simple DSL when a full featured one is needed. Consider extending a GPL into a DSL. Particularly an expressive language that is good at creating a readable DSL — like Ruby.


IMHO the key point here is that it is easier to code your domain in the simplest and expressive way (ala DDD), and later let it emerge a DSL shaped on that, rather than build a priori a monstrous DSL with a formal definition, a parser generated from a grammar, etc. And XML/XSLT don’t help either, both for readability and handling issues.

Many thanks to Lawrence Oluyede for having me signalled this.

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One Response to “Jim Freeze talking about writing DSLs in ruby”

  1. riffraff Says:

    I found interesting the experience of the freebsd developers about ifconfig(8). Argument parsing is basically a minilanguage that grew wildly with time, and it reached the point when writing a YACC based parser become a suitable refactoring.

    It may be seen as a usual YAGNI experience, but I have some doubts about it: maybe using a real parser since the beginning could have saved a lot of work in maintaning an ad hoc solution for a long time.

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