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Presentation: An Introduction to M

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During PDC 2008, David Langworthy, Architect at Microsoft, and Don Box, Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, held a presentation about Oslo, focusing especially on the modeling language M, explaining what is and what is not, and also demonstrating using M to create a data model.

According to Don, Oslo is constituted by the following components:

  • M Language - a modeling language
  • Quadrant - a modeling tool
  • Repository - a model storage

Don explains they chose a modeling language because they wanted to offer a design tool which allows working with models textually. M allows one to create a model by typing like creating a program in other languages.

According to Don, M is:

  • “M” is a language for defining domain models and textual domain-specific languages (DSLs)
  • M domain models define schema and query over structured data
       Values, Constraints, and Views
       Natural projection to SQL
  • M DSLs define projections from Unicode text to structured data
       Rule-based transformation
      Grammar-driven text editor integration

"M is about capturing, schematizing and transforming data", says Don. M offers only a representation of data, has no data related behavior, so there is no polymorphism. Typing is done by structural typing, the way represented data is structured.

M is not an OOP language. M is not a data access technology. While all the data can be transported to/from a database, M is not an OLTP solution, and it is not a T-SQL replacement.

In a live demonstration, David creates a data model, stores the data to a database and retrieves it later from there. He shows some features of the language like constraints, identity, value types, functions, and others.

The Oslo SDK can be downloaded from MSDN.


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