Let us assume that we need to build a quote generation program. This mean that we need to generate a quote out of the customer desires and the system requirements.
The customer's desires can be expressed in this UI:
The system requirements are:
- The Salary module is specification is a machine per every 150 users.
- The Taxes module requires a machine per 50 users.
- The Vacations module requires the Scheduling Work module.
- The Vacations module requires the External Connections module.
- The Pension Plans module requires the External Connections module.
- The Pension Plans module must be on the same machine as the Health Insurance module.
- The Health Insurance module requires the External Connections module.
- The Recruiting module requires a connection to the internet, and therefore requires a fire wall of the recommended list.
- The Employee Monitoring module requires the CompMonitor component
The first DSL that I wrote for it looked like this:
if has( "Vacations" ): add "Scheduling" number_of_machines["Salary"] = (user_count % 150) +1 number_of_machines["Taxes"] = (user_count % 50) +1
But this looked like a really bad idea, so I turned to a purely declarative approach, like this one:
specification @vacations: requires @scheduling_work requires @external_connections specification @salary: users_per_machine 150 specification @taxes: users_per_machine 50 specification @pension: same_machine_as @health_insurance
The problem with this approach is that I wonder, is this really something that you need a DSL for? You can do the same using XML very easily.
The advantage of a DSL is that we can put logic in it, so we can also do something like:
specification @pension: if user_count < 500: same_machine_as @health_insurance else: requires @distributed_messaging_backend requires @health_insurance
Which would be much harder to express in XML.
Of course, then we are not in the purely declarative DSL anymore.