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Quality in Use of Domain Specific Languages: a Case Study

Domain Specific Languages (DSLs) are claimed to increment productivity, while reducing the required maintenance and programming expertise. In this context, DSLs usability is a key factor for its successful adoption. In this paper, we propose a systematic approach based on User Interfaces Experimental validation techniques to assess the impact of the introduction of DSLs on the productivity of domain experts. To illustrate this evaluation approach we present a case study of a DSL for High Energy Physics (HEP). The DSL on this case study, called Pheasant (PHysicist’s EAsy Analysis Tool), is assessed in contrast with a pre-existing baseline, using General Purpose Languages (GPLs) such as C++. The comparison combines quantitative and qualitative data, collected with users from a real-world setting. Our assessment includes Physicists with programming experience with two profiles; ones with no experience with the previous framework used in the project and other experienced. This work’s contribution highlights the problem of the absence of systematic approaches for experimental validation of DSLs. It also illustrates how an experimental approach can be used in the context of a DSL evaluation during the Software Languages Engineering activity, with respect to its impact on effectiveness and efficiency.


@ Proceedings of the PLATEAU 2011 Workshop on Evaluation and Usability of Programming Languages and Tools - SPLASH 2011

Publisher: ACM ( United States )

Date: October, 2011


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