Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DSLs and the new Analyst tester

Domain specific languages (DSLs) are quickly gaining momentum and there is definite interest in how the industry can adopt DSLs in the requirements world. I think DSLs can act as a bridge to help cross the divide between an "analyst" and a "tester". While, I don't think the industry is ready to adopt DSL's in the large, there are several easy wins here that I think can be easily gained by the industry if we start small.

1) Get the analysts involved with delivery -it's time to accept that the old fashioned approach of making up requirements and throwing it over the wall has failed. Instead, embed the analysts with the developers and testers. Make them work with the team, jointly capturing requirements together and creating tests that validate that the system.

2) Executable Requirements - start writing automated acceptance tests. These acceptance tests are described one level up from "code" and can start looking like a natural language. Wikis like FitNesse ( are an excellent example

3) Behaviour Driven Development - the next step up from executable requirements is to embrace a DSL-like mindset to drive the design, development and testing. There are emerging frameworks that allow a tester or developer to write test cases in code that mirror the language of the business. See,

If we can get these three practices right, then I think we are half way up the hill towards understanding and using DSLs. Already there are many organizations and teams that are pushing the frontier with these practices. As these practices get adopted, the "analyst" will evolve into a capital A - "Analyst", lower case t - "tester" and the two roles will be merged into one.

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