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Can we host DSL designer in a custom host application?

    Question

  • Is it possible to create a designer host to host DSL diagramming?  This way we can create a designer host using Visual Studio but won't need Visual Studio to create a diagram.  If it's feasible, would it be allowed per license/distribution agreement?
    Thursday, July 06, 2006 3:17 PM

Answers

  • Well, the main components of the DSL Tools are the DSL Designer, the T4 template generator, and the template code for the generated solutions. There's nothing to stop you changing that last item as much as you like. The DSL Designer can only be used within the stated authoring environment, and the T4 template generator can only be used inside the stated user environment. But you could do a hyper-customization that throws away the entirety of the template solutions, and builds something else that maybe uses the DSL Designer and T4 for authoring, and uses neither at the user level. Quite a lot of work....

    Thursday, July 06, 2006 5:34 PM
    Moderator
  • Some good news on the hosting front with the announcement of the Visual Studio 2008 Shell - have a look at Gareths blog and the Visual Studio Shell page for more info:

     

    Duncan

     

    Thursday, June 07, 2007 11:18 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Well, the main components of the DSL Tools are the DSL Designer, the T4 template generator, and the template code for the generated solutions. There's nothing to stop you changing that last item as much as you like. The DSL Designer can only be used within the stated authoring environment, and the T4 template generator can only be used inside the stated user environment. But you could do a hyper-customization that throws away the entirety of the template solutions, and builds something else that maybe uses the DSL Designer and T4 for authoring, and uses neither at the user level. Quite a lot of work....

    Thursday, July 06, 2006 5:34 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks a lot Alan.  I played with the designer host according to the MSDN article "Create And Host Custom Designers With The .NET Framework 2.0".  I am thinking of just using the DSL designer so end user can create some sort of flow chart type diagram which would be used in our application domain.  I may or may not need the DSL code generation part.  It sounds like I should be able to do it with a bit of work.  I will give it a try.  I only have the express version now, I guess I will need to wait till we get the pro version.

     

     

    Thursday, July 06, 2006 5:55 PM
  • Hi Santabo,

    I believe Alan was suggesting that you could generate your own graphical application from your DSL model.  Unfortunately, in V1, using our graphical design surface outside of Visual Studio is not supported.

    Sunday, July 09, 2006 11:46 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the clarification.  Even if hosting outside Visual Studio is not supported, do you know if something will definitely prevent it from working outside VS?  If DSL designer is following the generic design time architecture of VS 2005, I don't see what will stop it from working outside Visual Studio.  May be you can shed some light here.   

    What I am trying to do is create a visio like end user application without using VS, Visio or third party software.  If you know of an easier way to do that without using DSL designer surface, let me know.  That will be a big help. 

    Monday, July 10, 2006 2:23 AM
  • I recently saw a demo of a .Net application hosting a deployment diagram out of VS2005. The diagram was built programmatically from the configuration data and updated live, but it was not modifiable graphically by the end-user.

    So it seems we can host a designer diagram out of VS2005.

    It was a "week-end" project to enhance the configuration module of an application. I thus guess it didn't require a lot of work to do it...

    Unfortunately, I had no access to the source code or design of the application.

    Luc

    Monday, July 17, 2006 1:19 PM
  • Hi Santanbo,

    I have a similar requirements to that of yours

    Did you come across with any solutions?

    Thanks.

    Vishal

    Thursday, June 07, 2007 4:47 AM
  • Some good news on the hosting front with the announcement of the Visual Studio 2008 Shell - have a look at Gareths blog and the Visual Studio Shell page for more info:

     

    Duncan

     

    Thursday, June 07, 2007 11:18 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Microsoft,

     

    Thanks for the DSL tool. It is such a greate product and easy to use. I wish I can host DSL designer directly, because it is really difficult to customize Visual Studio Isolated Shell. 

     

    Is there any plan to have a DSL designer control that can be hosted in applications other than visual studio, like the Workflow designer?

    Saturday, March 08, 2008 4:18 AM
  •  

    Hi yysun,

    At present there are no such plans.  The VS Shell is the hosting model we are focused on.  What areas of VS Isolated Shell are you finding hard to customize?

    Saturday, March 08, 2008 4:22 AM
    Moderator
  •  GarethJ - MSFT wrote:

     

    Hi yysun,

    At present there are no such plans.  The VS Shell is the hosting model we are focused on.  What areas of VS Isolated Shell are you finding hard to customize?

     

    Thank you GarethJ for the reply.

     

    As using VS isolated shall for DSL, my first difficulty is to organize/hide the out-of-the-box packages, editors, templates. After copied the pkgundef file from the story board designer, web site template is gone, but something like "connect to database", "class view", "code definition window" are still there. Those GUIDs are pretty hard to manage.

     

    Second difficulty is to deal with solution-project-file concept in VS. To implement custom project like in  the story board designer is not easy. Actually I just want simple File | New, Open, Save ..., not to use solution and project at all.

     

    I thought maybe I can hide all out-of-box menus and supply my own menus. Then it comes to the thrid difficulty, which is to customize menus. VSCT is much better then CTC, but it requires editing XML file and matching GUIDs, IDs in code. Compare using visual studio cutomize ribbon and task pane for Word and Excel, how hard it is.

     

    One day, customization of visual studio will become as easy as customization of Office applications. I believe that. But it will still face the requirement of integrating DSL designer with LOB applications. DSL has possible wider usage outside of development(code generation) world. DSL designer is expected to appear in custom applications, SharePoint sites and Office applications. For example, if the DSL designer is hosted in Word, our BA can then use the story board designer while writing the documents.

     

    So please MSFT, consider unleashing the potentials of DSL. Follow the workflow designer brother, free the DSL designer to outside of VS shell.

     

     

     

    Saturday, March 08, 2008 7:18 PM