Tales from 1002 Repositories: Development and Evolution of Xtext-based DSLs on GitHub
Paper i proceeding, 2024

Domain-specific languages (DSLs) play a crucial role in facilitating a wide range of software development activities in the context of model-driven engineering (MDE). However, there exists a significant gap in the systematic understanding of how DSLs evolve over time, which could hamper the development of effective methodologies and tools. To address this gap, we performed a comprehensive investigation into the development and evolution of textual DSLs created with Xtext, a particularly widely used language workbench in the MDE community. Through a systematic analysis of 1002 GitHub repositories, we explore DSL development practices with an emphasis on the involved artifact types, development scenarios, evolution activities, and the co-evolution of related artifacts. We find that the majority of analyzed languages were developed following a grammar-driven approach, although a notable number adopt a metamodel-driven approach. Additionally, we identify a trend of retrofitting existing languages in Xtext, illustrating the framework’s flexibility beyond the creation of new DSLs. Addressing a need for large and systematically documented datasets in the model-driven engineering community, we contribute a dataset of repositories together with our collected meta-information, which can be used to inform the development of improved tools for supporting the development and evolution of DSLs.


software evolution



Weixing Zhang

Software Engineering 1

Daniel Struber

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering

50th Euromicro Conference Series on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications (SEAA) 2024

50th Euromicro Conference Series on Software Engineering and Advanced Applications (SEAA) 2024
Paris, France,


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