Language workbenches are touted as a promising technology to engineer languages for use in a wide range of domains, from programming to science to business. However, not many real-world case studies exist that evaluate the suitability of language workbench technology for this task. This paper contains such a case study. In particular, we evaluate the development of mbeddr, a collection of integrated languages and language extensions built with the Jetbrains MPS language workbench. mbeddr consists of 81 languages, with their IDE support, 34 of them C extensions. The mbeddr languages use a wide variety of notations---textual, tabular, symbolic and graphical---and the C extensions are modular; new extensions can be added without changing the existing implementation of C. mbeddr's development has spanned 10 person-years so far, and the tool is used in practice and continues to be developed. This makes mbeddr a meaningful case study of non-trivial size and complexity. The evaluation is centered around five research questions: language modularity, notational freedom and projectional editing, mechanisms for managing complexity, performance and scalability issues and the consequences for the development process. We draw generally positive conclusions; language engineering with MPS is ready for real-world use. However, we also identify a number of areas for improvement in the state of the art in language engineering in general, and in MPS in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages46
JournalSoftware and Systems Modeling
StateAccepted/In press - 9 Jan 2017

    Research areas

  • Language engineering, Language extension, Language workbenches, Domain-specific language, Case study, Languages, Experimentation

ID: 10057473