Stuart Kent - Building developer tools at Microsoft - @sjhkent

November, 2008

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    DSL Tools in Visual Studio 2010

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    The first public CTP of Visual Studio 10

    Anyone attending or watching the goings on at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) will have heard about the next version of Visual Studio.

    If you were at PDC, you will have received a VPC containing a Community Technology Preview of Visual Studio 10. If you were not, you might know that you can download it at: Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 CTP.

    What about the DSL Tools?

    If you are interested in the DSL Tools, and try this CTP, you might be disappointed not to find anything new in DSL Tools. This doesn't mean we haven't been busy. In fact we've been developing a number of highly-requested new features, but unfortunately did not get these integrated into this CTP release. We'll share them with customers in our next preview release.

    Also, in the CTP you'll find a suite of new designers from Team Architect, including a set of UML designers. These have all been built using DSL Tools, and some of the new features we're delivering are directly to support this effort.

    The new features

    So what are the new features then? Below is a summary. They've been driven by a combination of supporting internal teams such as Team Architect, and responding to customer feedback. We'll blog more about these features over the coming weeks, including, we hope, publishing some videos demo'ing them as a taster whilst you wait for the next preview.

    Dsl Libraries. Share fragments of DSL definitions between different designers.

    Dsl extensibility. Extend the domain model and behavior for a DSL after it's been deployed, including DSLs shipped by a third party.

    Readonly. Selectively switch off the ability to edit models and model elements in a designer.

    Forms-based UI. Easily bind models to winforms and WPF-based forms UI. IMS now implements the necessary databinding interfaces.

    Modelbus. A new piece of platform to support cross-referencing between models and interaction between designers. This has been one of customers' main requests.

    T4 precompile. Precompile text templates so that they can be deployed for use on machines that do not have VS installed. (This applies to scenarios where text templates take inputs from data sources other than DSL models. We've had requests from internal teams to use text templates in scenarios which don't use models created from DSLs.)

    UI enhancements:

    • Moveable labels on the connectors (moveably can be activated
    • Sticky tools in the toolbox
    • Quick navigation and editing of compartments
    • Copy and paste of selection as BMP and EMF images
    • Copy and paste of elements in the same or in different diagrams
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    DSL Tools and Oslo

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    The Oslo modeling platform was announced at Microsoft's PDC and we've been asked by a number of customers what the relationship is between DSL Tools and Oslo. So I thought it would be worth clearing the air on this. Keith Short from the Oslo team has just posted on this very same question. I haven’t much to add really, except to clarify a couple of things about DSL Tools and VSTS Team Architect.

    As Keith pointed out, some commentators have suggested that DSL Tools is dead. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Keith himself points out that "both products have a lifecycle in front of them". In DSL Tools in Visual Studio 2010 I summarize the new features that we're shipping for DSL Tools in VS 2010, and we'll be providing more details in future posts. In short, the platform has expanded to support forms-based designers and interaction between models and designers. There's also the new suite of designers from Team Architect including a set of UML designers and technology specific DSLs coming in VS 2010. These have been built using DSL Tools. Cameron has blogged about this, and there are now some great videos describing the features, including some new technology for visualizing existing code and artifacts. See this entry from Steve for details.

    The new features in DSL Tools support integration with the designers from team architect, for example with DSLs of your own, using the new modelbus, and we're exploring other ways in which you can enhance and customize those designers without having to taking the step of creating your own DSL. Our T4 text templating technology will also work with these designers for code generation and will allow access to models across the modelbus. You may also be interested in my post Long Time No Blog, UML and DSLs which talks more about the relationship between DSLs and UML.

  • stuart kent's blog

    Teach yourself DSL Tools

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    Jean-Marc has just posted a lab on code gallery, which provides a fully worked, step-by-step example of creating a DSL from scratch. If you're new to DSL Tools, or want to teach others how to use them, then you may find this useful.

    Nearly forgot the link. It's at:

    http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/DSLToolsLab

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