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Domain Specific Languages by Martin Fowler

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Chapter 5. Implementing an External DSL

With internal DSLs, you can do a great deal to define a language that has that elusive flow, but in the end you are always limited by conforming to the syntactic structure of the host language. External DSLs provide a greater syntactic freedom—the ability to use any syntax you like.

Implementing an external DSL differs from internal DSLs in that the parsing process operates on pure text input which is not constrained by any particular language. The techniques we can use to parse text are essentially those that have been in use for decades in parsing programming languages. There is also a long-running language community developing these tools and techniques.

But there is a catch. The tools and writings ...

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