Hosting Domain Specific Languages

I’ve just discovered today that Microsoft are only going to allow languages created with the DSL to be hosting within Visual Studio. I’m very disapointed by this news. The general push behind DSL is to encourage Software Factories and generally improve the practices used to create applications. The big trick I believe they’ve missed is that there are many applications that allow the user to customise their experience. Why should we ignore our application users and let them live outside of good software development practices? Even if you only consider such users as casual developers, getting people involved in good practices at any level can only be a good thing. There are many professional developers who have started life customising existing applications and, "getting them while they’re young" approach would seem a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft Tools division has as much right to make money as anyone at Microsoft, but I think forcing DSLs to be created only in Visual Studio and then allowing them to be deployed and used freely would be a much better strategy. Even the Windows Workflow Foundation (or Workflow Foundation as they prefer) team have produced in essence a DSL for workflows which they allow to be hosted without Visual Studio so why not custom DSLs? Very disapointed.

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