Integrating User Interface & Domain Specific Languages

time to read 2 min | 288 words

User interface is often seen as an external piece of the DSL, something that is completely separated from the language. While this is one options to handle things, it is not necessarily the only one.

During the design of the DSL, we should also think about the user interface that we intend to give our users. That will change the way that we build the language, usually, but not only because we need to give the UI more information, but because we can also utilize the UI to make things easier.

In particular, a good usage of the UI will allow us to give the users more information. Using the Shopping Cart DSL, we can utilize the UI to show the users what are the actions that will be taken on bad credit for all types of customers, or what it means to be a preferred customer. This is a very efficient way of writing documentation, once that is also guaranteed to be always updated.

A mockup of a screen reporting on the behavior of the system, as extracted from the DSL scripts:


This is a very important concept because it is showing the user data that the DSL isn't actually able to show. This is aggregated data across all behaviors and in all states, something that in the past you would have to either remember or research every time that you wanted to find out what is actually happening.

In short, don't try to limit yourself to just the typical IDE option, a DSL can and should give you a lot more information, and using this information can give you a lot of insight into your business.