Programming languages are enormously diverse, both in their essential concepts and in their accidental aspects. This creates a problem when teaching programming. To let students experience the diversity of essential concepts, the students must also be exposed to an overwhelming variety of accidental and irrelevant detail: the accidental differences between the languages are likely to obscure the teaching point. The dialect system of the Grace programming language allows instructors to tailor and vary the language to suit their courses, while staying within the same stylistic, syntactic and semantic framework, as well as permitting authors to define advanced internal domain-specific languages. The dialect system achieves this power though a combination of well-known language features: lexical nesting, lambda expressions, multi-part method names, optional typing, and plug gable checkers. Grace's approach to dialects is validated by a series of case studies, including both extensions and restrictions of the base language.
Michael Homer, Timothy Jones, James Noble, Kim B. Bruce, and Andrew P. Black
European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP), 2014
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Michael Homer — 2015