Chris Sells: On the History of DevCon, DSLs and Oslo

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Chris Sells has been hosting DevCons for the past 5 years. What is DevCon? Why? What's the aim of these small conferences?

This year, Chris decided to focus DevCon 2009 on DSLs (Domain Specific Languages). Since Chris is a PM on the Olso team (which contains a set of technologies that enable the composition of DSLs) and DSLs are the programming language design industry's current obsession, Chris thought it would be a great idea to get some of DSL's most prominent thinkers (and doers) together for a few days here in Redmond. 

Tune in and learn from Chris the story of What, How and Why of DevCon. We of course also talk about Oslo and what the heck it is.



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The Discussion

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     If I am defining a schema, language, repository and have customers using this system, how do I update the language and deal with migration?  The flexibility of being able to change the language, that is designed to be understandable by our customers sounds great in theory but what about this issue of versioning?  Do I brute force it, or are there going to be tools to deal with it?

    The upfront understanding of the entire domain, while trying to remain flexible to customer demands and changing understanding/requirements begs a sample from the Oslo team where we can see how a real development process would operate in the Oslo world.  Not just a one off sample, but a real application, with real changing requirements.  I know that it's going to come ... I just hope it's sooner than later, because I think we'll need a ton of guidance on this and a lot of help wading through the change of perspective necessary to utililize this kind of platform.

    I think Oslo will have one of the biggest learning curves in a very long time.  I have just recently been able to teach and encourage a fellow developer to use lamda expressions in C# 3.5 to solve a problem he was having, much simpler than he would ever have done before, but it took a year of encouragement to help him begin to "see the light".  I am afraid that since I have to point people to a video of the PDC to even try to explain Oslo, that it will be a very long and arduous task to bring Oslo to market.  I look forward to the day that I can go into a contract where people are using DSLs to define the system, but I really have strong doubts about it happening anytime soon.  What kind of roadmap does the Oslo team see, for the market penetration and developer mindshare that Oslo will achieve?

    Please concentrate some effort into making a "real-world application" built on Oslo, so we can use it to guide ourselves and others.

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