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Introduction to Domain Specific Languages



Domain Specific Languages (DSLs) are limited forms of computer language designed for a specific class of problems. In this JAOO conference talk, Martin Fowler introduces a simple example of DSL, bringing out the difference between external and internal DSLs, and talking through the trade-offs in using both forms. The talk is based on Martin's language workbench article on


Martin Fowler is one of our industry's most well known thought leaders having had an influence in the adoption of OO, refactoring, patterns, agile methodologies, domain modeling, UML, and XP. Martin is Chief Scientist at ThoughtWorks, and writes regularly at

About the conference

Recorded at:

Oct 31, 2006

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Community comments

  • Smalltalk and DSLs

    by Carl Gundel,

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    Mr. Fowler rightly mentioned Lisp as a language for creating DSLs, but I was surprised that he did not mention Smalltalk. Those interested in DSLs certainly owe it to themselves to take a close look at Smalltalk.

  • DSL or not

    by Jonas Ekstrom,

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    Let's say the problem domain is specific to process patterns.

    Is it better to use a well known language (such as C#) together with a domain specific framework (such as CCR) to solve a problem, or should one use a DSL (such as BPEL)?

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